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 Ramatkal—רמטכ"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
|Ministry of Defense|
|Member of||General Staff|
|Reports to||Minister of Defense|
|Seat||Rabin Camp, HaKirya, Tel Aviv|
|Nominator||Minister of Defense|
|Appointer||Cabinet of Israel|
|Formation||1 June 1947|
|First holder||Rav 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 Staff||Took office||Left office||Time in office|
|1 June 1947||9 November 1949||2 years, 161 days|
|9 November 1949||7 December 1952||3 years, 28 days|
|7 December 1952||6 December 1953||364 days|
|6 December 1953||29 January 1958||4 years, 54 days|
|29 January 1958||1 January 1961||2 years, 338 days|
|1 January 1961||1 January 1964||3 years, 0 days|
|1 January 1964||1 January 1968||4 years, 0 days|
|1 January 1968||1 January 1972||4 years, 0 days|
|1 January 1972||3 April 1974||2 years, 92 days|
|3 April 1974||16 April 1974||13 days|
|16 April 1974||16 April 1978||4 years, 0 days|
|16 April 1978||19 April 1983||5 years, 3 days|
|19 April 1983||19 April 1987||4 years, 0 days|
|19 April 1987||1 April 1991||3 years, 347 days|
|1 April 1991||1 January 1995||3 years, 275 days|
|1 January 1995||9 July 1998||3 years, 189 days|
|9 July 1998||9 July 2002||4 years, 0 days|
|9 July 2002||1 June 2005||2 years, 327 days|
|1 June 2005||14 February 2007||1 year, 258 days|
|14 February 2007||14 February 2011||4 years, 0 days|
|14 February 2011||16 February 2015||4 years, 2 days|
|16 February 2015||15 January 2019||3 years, 333 days|
|15 January 2019||Incumbent||325 days|
- "Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz Appointed 20th IDF Chief of the General Staff". Israel Defense Forces. 14 February 2011. Retrieved 14 February 2011.
- Ginsburg, Mitch. "Maj. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot to be named 21st commander of IDF". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 28 November 2014.