- Title: MIDEAST-NETANYAHU/ARMY CHIEF Israel swears in new army chief of staff
- Date: 16th February 2015
- Summary: CROWD AND LEADERS SALUTING DURING NATIONAL ANTHEM
- Embargoed: 3rd March 2015 12:00
- Location: Israel
- Country: Israel
- Topics: General
- Reuters ID: LVA9Z09IYI47703LGMRCY6BP09PK
- Aspect Ratio:
- Story Text: Israel swore in a new army chief on Monday (February 16) and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the issue of Iran would top his agenda.
The new Israeli army chief of staff, Gadi Eisenkot was sworn in as the 21st chief of staff, replacing Lieutenant General Benny Gantz at a ceremony held at the prime minister's residence in Jerusalem.
During the ceremony, Netanyahu said the new chief of staff will have to cope with various challenges facing Israel, and named Iran as the main threat.
"The challenges with which the state of Israel is coping are well known to you. The Middle East disintegrates. States fall apart. Into this space races an empire, this empire is Iran," Netanyahu said.
The premier, fending off criticism at home and abroad, is expected to speak before the U.S. Congress next month on Iran's nuclear programme.
Israeli defence minister Moshe Yaalon voiced confidence that Eisenkot had the necessary characteristics to take on the demanding role.
"As someone who knows you since you were a brigade commander and follows your progress for many years, I'm sure that these characteristics and your wide experience will continue to be an integral part of who you are. Throughout the years of your service in the Golani brigade and other main junctures in the Israeli Armed Forces, you have demonstrated a high level of quality and professionalism, integrity and values," Yaalon said.
A military change of command was later held at the defence ministry in Tel Aviv.
Eisenkot, 54, was the senior commander of forces along Israel's northern border with Lebanon and Syria and among a several other top positions, served as military attache to former prime minister Ehud Barak.
Described by top officers as a level-headed, quiet thinker, Eisenkot rose through the ranks in the infantry. Apart from commanding forces along the southern Lebanon border, in more junior roles he also led troops in the occupied West Bank.
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