Israel: former intelligence head Herzi Halevi named as army chief

    Halevi will replace Lieutenant General Aviv Kochavi who is set to finish his four-year term in January.

    The Israeli government has confirmed Major General Herzi Halevi, a former military intelligence head who led forces along the Gaza border, as the country's next military chief.

    Halevi, 54, who serves as deputy to outgoing Chief of General Staff Aviv Kohavi, will take charge of Israeli army on January 17, Prime Minister Yair Lapid said in a statement on Sunday.

    Halevi's appointment at the end of Kohavi's term comes as violence surges in the occupied West Bank and just weeks since Israel's latest attack on the besieged Gaza.

    His nomination was approved less than two weeks before Israelis head to the polls on November 1, in the country's fifth election in less than four years.

    Speaking shortly before the cabinet vote, Lapid said Halevi would face the same "main challenge" as past army chiefs, ensuring Israel's military is "stronger, more sophisticated and more determined" than "our enemies".

    Military career

    Born in Jerusalem in 1967 to a religious family, Halevi was enlisted in 1985 as a paratrooper and  and advanced in various command positions before leading the Paratroopers Brigade's in operations during the South Lebanon conflict.

    In 1993 Halevi joined the prime special forces unit of the Israeli military, the Sayeret Matkal commando unit, according to the army.

    He served as commander of Sayeret Matkal for three years from 2001 and then continued to climb the ranks, becoming head of military intelligence in 2014 and head of overseeing activity around besieged Gaza in the southern command in 2018, the army said.

    Married with four children, Halevi lives in Kfar Haoranim, a Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank.

    Evarist Chahali

    Evarist Chahali

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