The IDF saw a changing of the guard Monday as outgoing IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi passed the torch on to his successor, Lt.-Gen. Herzi Halevi. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Isaac Herzog, and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant (himself a former general) all met in person with the two chiefs of staff to make their respective goodbye’s and wishes for good luck.
Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defense Minister Gallant Met with Kochavi and Herzi Halevi and their Families Monday morning at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem. Netanyahu thanked outgoing Chief-of-Staff Kochavi for his 40 years of service in the IDF and wished incoming Chief-of-Staff Halevi success in his new position.
The Prime Minister told Kochavi, “Only someone who has served as IDF Chief-of-Staff knows the responsibility that the Chief-of-Staff bears. Our assumption that everything is already in place here, that everything is certain and complete – this is not the case. There is a certain apprehension in our existence and at the end of the day we live here thanks to the IDF, without which there is no existence.”
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President Herzog welcomed outgoing General Aviv Kochavi and incoming Chief-of-Staff Hetzi Halevi at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem following their handover. They held a meeting together and then a toast in honor of the handover.
Later, the President and the First Lady hosted the chiefs of staff and their spouses for a celebratory lunch, where the President gave the outgoing chief of staff a special farewell gift: a scan of the original the Prayer for the State of Israel, composed by the President’s grandfather, Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Isaac Halevi Herzog, as stored in the State Archives, designed and printed by an Israeli studio.
President Herzog said, “This is a very moving and joyous moment, as two of the State of Israel’s finest sons hand over command of the Israel Defense Forces. Without the IDF, there is no State of Israel, no life in the State of Israel, and no ability to develop as a people and as a state. This is therefore an opportunity to thank you and wish you success.”
Herzog also thanked General Kochavi for his “decades-long service to our people and state and for safeguarding our security in so many operational cycles and your immense contributions to the IDF,” and wished him success in the future.
Herzog also declared, “The IDF is beyond any political arguments! The IDF is essential to the State of Israel. The IDF is the basis of Israel’s security.”
“This is an opportunity to say something about the families of those serving in the professional army,” he added, “and this is also an opportunity to say something to the credit of those in the professional army, and of course also soldiers in mandatory service and reserves—they are the ones who bear the burden, day by day, hour by hour, and someone has to come and say thank you and give them backup in their day to day lives. Competition in the market and beyond is intense and we want the best of the best in the IDF to continue bearing the burden. The huge challenges facing us as a nation in terms of security are truly immense, from near and far.”
Herzog also took the opportunity to make remarks about Israel’s current political infighting and how the IDF remains above politics in its service to Israel/
“This is an opportunity to remind the general public that beyond every argument between us,” he said, “in the end, we have enemies who wish us harm and we must be ready for any confrontation and any challenge, anytime and anywhere. Thank you all and good luck!”