Benny Gantz

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Benjamin "Benny" Gantz
Flickr - Israel Defense Forces - 20th Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz.jpg
Benny Gantz, 2011
Native name
בנימין "בני" גנץ
Nickname(s) Benny
Born (1959-06-09) June 9, 1959 (age 64)
Kfar Ahim, Israel
Allegiance  Israel
Service/branch Israel Defense Forces
Years of service 1977–2015
Rank 40px Rav Aluf (Lieutenant general)
Unit Paratroopers Brigade
Commands held 890 "Efe" (Echis) Airborne Battalion (1987–1989), Shaldag Unit (1989–1992), Reserve Paratroopers Brigade (1992–1994), Judea Regional Brigade (1994–1995), Paratroopers Brigade (1995–1997), "Etgar" Division (1998–1999), Lebanon Liaison Unit (1999–2000), Northern Corps (2001), Judea and Samaria Division (2000–2002), Northern Command (2002–2005), Ground Forces Command (2005–2007), Military Attaché in the United States (2007–2009), Deputy Chief of General Staff (2009 – November 2010), Chief of the General Staff (February 14, 2011 – February 16, 2015)[1]
Awards Commander of the Legion of Merit (United States)

Benjamin "Benny" Gantz (Hebrew: בנימין "בני" גנץ‎; born June 9, 1959) was the 20th Chief of General Staff of the Israel Defense Forces (February 14, 2011 – February 16, 2015).[1][2]

Military service

Gantz was born in Kfar Ahim, Israel in 1959. His mother is a Holocaust survivor, originally from Mezőkovácsháza, Hungary.[3][4] Gantz was drafted into the IDF in 1977. He volunteered as a paratrooper in the Paratroopers Brigade, and in 1979 became an officer after completing Officer Candidate School. During his career Gantz has served in a number of roles, including: Commander of the Shaldag Unit in the Israeli Air Force, Commander of the Paratrooper Brigade, Commander of the Reserves Division in the Northern Command, Commander of the Lebanon Liaison Unit, Commander of the Judea and Samaria Division in 2000, before becoming the Commander of the Israeli Northern Command in 2001, and as Israel's military attaché in the United States from 2005 until 2009 before becoming the Deputy Chief of the General Staff.[5][6]

Gantz has received a number of degrees during his military service. He is a graduate of the IDF Command and Headquarters College and the National Security College. He holds a bachelor's degree in history from Tel Aviv University, a master's degree in political science from the University of Haifa, and an additional Master's Degree in National Resources Management from the National Defense University in the United States.[5]

Chief of Staff

Chief of Staff, LTG Benny Gantz embracing Gilad Shalit upon his return from captivity, 18 October 2011
Benny Gantz visits Southern Command on August 19, 2011, following the 2011 southern Israel cross-border attacks
Chief of General Staff Benny Gantz trains with soldiers at a Paratrooper Exercise, 18 May 2011

Following the canceled appointment of previous nominee Aluf Yoav Galant, Defense Minister Ehud Barak announced on 5 February 2011 that he will be recommending to the government that Gantz be appointed the 20th Chief of the General Staff (after the pending approval by the Turkel Advisory Committee on Senior Appointments and a government vote).[7]

On 13 February 2011, the Israeli government unanimously approved Gantz to be the next IDF chief of staff.[8] According to the Jerusalem Post, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated in the weekly Cabinet meeting in Jerusalem that Gantz was an "excellent officer and experienced commander and had rich operational and logistical experience, with all the attributes needed to be a successful army commander."[9]

On February 14, 2011 Gantz assumed command as the Chief of Staff of the Israel Defense Forces.[2]

In his first year as Chief of the General Staff, Gantz appointed the IDF's first-ever female major-general, Orna Barbivai.[10][11]

In July 2011 Gantz appointed a special committee to address a controversy that had developed concerning mention of the word Elohim, "God," in the military Yizkor prayer. The committee determined that a disputed passage should read Yizkor 'Am Yisrael, "May the Nation of Israel remember," and not Yizkor Elohim, "May God remember." Gantz upheld the committee's ruling.[12]

Gantz has called on the IDF to be ready for a new ground invasion of Gaza.[13][14]


Building on public land allegations

A report in the Israeli daily Yisrael Hayom from March 2010 charged Gantz with illegally extending the perimeter of his yard by several feet to encompass a small plot of land that had been designated public property and subsequently building on it. "The Deputy Chief of the General Staff, Major General Benny Gantz, invaded a public land area adjacent to his home in Rosh HaAyin, illegally and without a permit and a license constructed a nice and wide deck on public land next to his house's yard, enclosed it with a pretty wooden fence – and broke the law." The report included photos of the alleged violations. Gantz admitted to the facts but claimed that the public land in question was not and could not be accessible for use by the public. Two months after town hall officials notified him of the violation, the deck was disassembled and removed.[15]

In February 2011, following the government's decision to promote Gantz to Chief of the General Staff, Attorney Avi'ad Vissuli of the Forum for the Land of Israel submitted a formal objection to Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein and to Judge Ya'akov Turkel, demanding that the appointment be revoked. Vissuli compared the violations attributed to Gantz to the controversial property violations of Major General Yoav Galant.[16][17]

Role in the death of Corporal Madhat Yusuf

The Second Intifada erupted while Gantz served as Commander of the Judea-Samaria Division. Corporal Madhat Yusuf, a nineteen-year-old Border Guard policeman, was stationed at the time at Joseph's Tomb in present-day Nablus. On 1 October 2000, an armed Palestinian group attacked the tomb, and Yusuf suffered a gunshot wound to the neck from a Palestinian sniper. Rather than send in Israeli rescue forces, Ehud Barak, who was Prime Minister and Minister of Defense at the time, instructed Chief of the General Staff Shaul Mofaz to arrange for the Palestinian Authority to evacuate Yusuf to safety. Despite agreeing to the arrangement, Palestinian security forces failed to arrive, and Yusuf bled to death after four hours.

Since the incident, relatives and friends of Corporal Yusuf have demanded that various individuals be held accountable for what they consider to have been a preventable tragedy. Early in February 2011, Yusuf's family told reporters they were considering filing a petition with the Supreme Court to challenge the planned appointment of Gantz to Chief of the General Staff.[18]

The Turkel Committee charged with reviewing Gantz's qualifications vis-a-vis his planned appointment to Chief of the General Staff determined that Gantz "was not the most senior ranking commander at the scene, and there were operational as well as political considerations involved in the incident for which he was not responsible."[19]


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  3. Israel commemorates Holocaust Remembrance Day, Haaretz 08-04-2013
  4. In Auschwitz, Israeli army chief vows to prevent a ‘second Holocaust’, The Times of Israel 08-04-2013
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  6. "IDF chief announces new appointments to General Staff" from Haaretz Google cache version
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  13. "Gantz: Chances of War Breaking Out are Low but Probability of Deterioration is rising."
  14. "Israel 'will launch significant Gaza offensive sooner or later'."
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