Chief of the General Staff (Israel)

The Chief of the General Staff, also known as the Commander-in-Chief of the Israel Defense Forces (Hebrew: רֹאשׁ הַמַּטֶּה הַכְּלָלִי, Rosh HaMateh HaKlali—abbreviated Ramatkalרמטכ"ל), is the supreme commander and head of the Israel Defense Forces.

Chief of the General Staff
Hebrew: ראש המטה הכללי
Flag of the Chief of the General Staff
Rav Aluf Aviv Kochavi

since 15 January 2019
Ministry of Defense
Member ofGeneral Staff
Reports toMinister of Defense
SeatRabin Camp, HaKirya, Tel Aviv
NominatorMinister of Defense
AppointerCabinet of Israel
Formation1 June 1947
First holderRav Aluf Yaakov Dori

At any given time, the Chief of the General Staff is the only active officer holding the IDF's highest rank, rav aluf (רַב־אַלּוּף), which is usually translated into English as lieutenant general, a three-star rank. The lone exception to this rule occurred during the Yom Kippur War, when former Chief of the General Staff Haim Bar-Lev, who was a cabinet member at the outbreak of and during the war, was brought out of retirement and installed as chief of Southern Command. For a brief period, he and Chief of the General Staff David Elazar were both in active service with the rank of rav aluf.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) is an integrated force, its ranks are the same in all services. It has a slightly compacted rank structure; for instance, the Chief of the General Staff is seemingly only equivalent to a lieutenant general (NATO OF-8) in other militaries. Rav aluf means 'arch-general', which would be equal to a field marshal or five star general in other armies and equivalent to OF-10.

The position of ramatkal is defined in the Basic Law: The Military (1976), clause three:

  • The supreme command rank in the military is that of the Chief of the General Staff
  • The Chief of the General Staff is to be placed under the authority of the government and subordinate to the Defense Minister
  • The Chief of the General Staff is to be appointed by the government, according to the recommendation of the Defense Minister

The Chief of the General Staff is formally appointed once every three years, with the government often extending the term to four years, and in some occasions, even five. As of 15 January 2019, the Chief of the General Staff is Aviv Kochavi.


Given the importance of the IDF in Israeli society, the Chief of the General Staff is an important public figure in Israel. On appointment of a new Chief of the General Staff, mass-circulation papers such as Yediot Aharonot and Israel Hayom customarily provide their readers with large-scale portrait photos of the new Chief, and Israeli citizens often hang such photos in homes and shops. Former Chiefs of the General Staff often parlay the prominence of their position into political life, and sometimes the business world. Two Chiefs of the General Staff (Yitzhak Rabin and Ehud Barak) have become Prime Minister of Israel and nine others (Yigael Yadin, Moshe Dayan, Tzvi Tzur, Haim Bar-Lev, Mordechai Gur, Rafael Eitan, Amnon Lipkin-Shahak, Shaul Mofaz and Moshe Ya'alon) have served in the Knesset. Of these, only Tzur did not get appointed to the Cabinet. Five former Chiefs of the General Staff (Dayan, Rabin, Barak, Mofaz, and Ya'alon) held the position of Defense Minister, widely considered to be the most powerful ministerial post in the country and the immediate civilian superior of the Chief of the General Staff. Of these, Mofaz is the only one to serve as Defense Minister over his immediate successor as Chief of the General Staff (in Mofaz's case, Ya'alon). Moshe Dayan served also as Foreign Minister. Soon after his discharge, Dan Halutz became the CEO of a prestigious car importer. Ehud Barak took a hiatus from politics twice after defeats for re-election and pursued successful international business ventures.

List of Chiefs of the General Staff

No. Chief of the General StaffTook officeLeft officeTime in office
Dori, YaakovRav Aluf
Yaakov Dori
1 June 19479 November 19492 years, 161 days
Yadin, YigaelRav Aluf
Yigael Yadin
9 November 19497 December 19523 years, 28 days
Maklef, MordechaiRav Aluf
Mordechai Maklef
7 December 19526 December 1953364 days
Dayan, MosheRav Aluf
Moshe Dayan
6 December 195329 January 19584 years, 54 days
Laskov, HaimRav Aluf
Haim Laskov
29 January 19581 January 19612 years, 338 days
Laskov, HaimRav Aluf
Tzvi Tzur
1 January 19611 January 19643 years, 0 days
Rabin, YitzhakRav Aluf
Yitzhak Rabin
1 January 19641 January 19684 years, 0 days
Bar-Lev, HaimRav Aluf
Haim Bar-Lev
1 January 19681 January 19724 years, 0 days
Elazar, DavidRav Aluf
David Elazar
1 January 19723 April 19742 years, 92 days
Hofi, YitzhakAluf
Yitzhak Hofi
3 April 197416 April 197413 days
Gur, MordechaiRav Aluf
Mordechai Gur
16 April 197416 April 19784 years, 0 days
Eitan, RafaelRav Aluf
Rafael Eitan
16 April 197819 April 19835 years, 3 days
Levi, MosheRav Aluf
Moshe Levi
19 April 198319 April 19874 years, 0 days
Shomron, DanRav Aluf
Dan Shomron
19 April 19871 April 19913 years, 347 days
Barak, EhudRav Aluf
Ehud Barak
(born 1942)
1 April 19911 January 19953 years, 275 days
Lipkin-Shahak, AmnonRav Aluf
Amnon Lipkin-Shahak
1 January 19959 July 19983 years, 189 days
Mofaz, ShaulRav Aluf
Shaul Mofaz
(born 1948)
9 July 19989 July 20024 years, 0 days
Ya'alon, MosheRav Aluf
Moshe Ya'alon
(born 1950)
9 July 20021 June 20052 years, 327 days
Halutz, DanRav Aluf
Dan Halutz
(born 1948)
1 June 200514 February 20071 year, 258 days
Ashkenazi, GabiRav Aluf
Gabi Ashkenazi
(born 1954)
14 February 200714 February 20114 years, 0 days
Gantz, BennyRav Aluf
Benny Gantz
(born 1959)
14 February 201116 February 20154 years, 2 days
Eizenkot, GadiRav Aluf
Gadi Eizenkot
(born 1960)
16 February 201515 January 20193 years, 333 days
Kochavi, AvivRav Aluf
Aviv Kochavi
(born 1964)
15 January 2019Incumbent325 days


  1. "Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz Appointed 20th IDF Chief of the General Staff". Israel Defense Forces. 14 February 2011. Retrieved 14 February 2011.
  2. Ginsburg, Mitch. "Maj. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot to be named 21st commander of IDF". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 28 November 2014.
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