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Gabi Ashkenazi

Gabi Ashkenazi b. 1954
Place of birth Hagor, IsraelAllegiance Israel Service/branch Israel Defense ForcesYears of service 1972–2005, 2007– Rank Rav AlufCommands held Golani Brigade(1987–1988), IDF Liaison Unit to Lebanon (1992–1994), Israeli Operations Directorate(1994–1996), Israeli Northern Command(1998–2002), Chief of the General Staff, Israel Defense Forces(2007–) Battles/wars Yom Kippur War, Operation Thunderbolt, Operation Litani, 1982 Lebanon War, 1982-2000 South Lebanon conflict,Intifada, al-Aqsa Intifada

Rav Aluf Gabi (Gabriel) Ashkenazi (Hebrew: גבי אשכנזי‎), born 1954 in Hagor, Israel[1], is the 19th Chief of the General Staff (Hebrew: רמטכ"ל Ramatkal) in Israel Defence Forces .


Background and early life

Like his predecessor Dan Halutz, Ashkenazi grew up in Hagor, a Moshav, or cooperative agricultural community in the Sharon region of Central Israel. Ashkenazi's father, a Bulgarian Jewish Holocaust survivor, and mother, a Syrian Jew, helped found the community.[2][3] Ashkenazi completed high school at a military boarding school affiliated with the prestigious Gymnasia Herzliya in Tel Aviv. His roommates included Yigal Schwartz, a major figure in Israeli literature, and Yoav Toker, a Paris-based broadcast journalist.[4]

Golani Brigade (1972-1988)

Drafted into Israel's Golani Brigade in 1972, Ashkenazi first saw action in the Sinai Peninsula during the 1973 Yom Kippur War. In July 1976 Ashkenazi was a platoon commander in the force that carried out Operation Thunderbolt, a mission to rescue hostages held in Uganda, but he did not participate in the battle at Entebbe Airport.[2] Ashkenazi's first of many experiences in Lebanon came in 1978 during Operation Litani. Ashkenazi was wounded in the fighting and left the IDF before being asked to return as a battalion commander two years later.[2][1] During the 1982 Lebanon War, Ashkenazi served as Deputy Commander of the Golani Brigade and commanded the forces which captured Beaufort Castle, and the towns of Nabatieh and Jabel Baruch.[5] Promoted to Commander of the Golani in 1987, Ashkenazi was reportedly popular with his brigade's combat soldiers during his nearly two-year tenure in that post.[1]

Northern Command (1988-2002)

In 1988, Ashkenazi was appointed head of Intelligence for Israeli Northern Command. He commanded a reserve armor division[3] in the early 1990s and later worked as the chief of Israel's civil administration in Lebanon, and in 1994 was promoted to chief of the General Staff's Operations Directorate.[2] In 1998, Ashkenazi was appointed head of the Israeli Northern Command, a position that would make him responsible for Israel's withdrawal from its Security Zone in Southern Lebanon, ending Israel's 18 year occupation in that country. Ashkenazi criticized the withdrawal, believing that it should have been accompanied by negotiations with Syria.[2].

Deputy Chief of the General Staff (2002-2005)

Appointed IDF Deputy Chief of Staff in 2002, Ashkenazi was considered the most moderate member of the Israeli General Staff during the al-Aqsa Intifada, according to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz.[2] When Israel began to construct a West Bank barrier in order to physically separate Israeli and Palestinian communities with the purpose of preventing terrorist attacks within Israel, Ashkenazi was placed in charge of the project. He advocated building the barrier as close to the Green Line as possible, a position which would minimize the effects of the barrier on Palestinians. The General also "objected to aggressive acts against the Palestinians" during the Intifada and once described his "greatest fear" for the IDF as "the loss of humanity [of Israeli soldiers] because of the ongoing warfare."

In early 2005, Israeli commentators speculated that Ashkenazi might be appointed Chief of Staff.[3] However, then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and his Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz chose former Israeli Air Force Commander Dan Halutz instead. Haaretz speculated that Sharon might have rejected Ashkenazi because of the General's moderate political views. Ashkenazi retired from the IDF in May, three months after Halutz's appointment was announced. After leaving the IDF "in enormous pain and disappointment", according to The Jerusalem Post, Ashkenazi became a partner in a Tel Aviv-based security consulting firm.

Director-General of the Defense Ministry (2006)

One year later, Defense Minister Amir Peretz brought Ashkenazi back to the military to serve as the Ministry of Defense's Director-General. In this position, Ashkenazi became the relatively inexperienced Minister's "right hand man" during the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict and, according to Ynetnews, proved to be "much more proficient" than his boss.[1] Ynetnews attributes Peretz's decision to promote Ashkenazi to Chief of Staff to the two men's successful working relationship during the Lebanon war.

Chief of the General Staff (CoGS) (2007)

Education and family life

Ashkenazi studied at the Tel Aviv Junior Command Preparatory School and the U.S. Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He also holds a B.A. in political science from the University of Haifa and is a graduate of a Harvard Business School program in management for senior executives. Ashkenazi, who lives in Kfar Saba, is married to Ronit and has two children, Gali and Itai.

Gabi Ashkenazi's brother, Brigadier General Avi Ashkenazi, was appointed head of the IDF's Staff and Command School in September, 2006.


  1. ^ a b c d "Who is Gabi Ashkenazi?", Ynetnews, 2007-01-22. Retrieved on 2007-01-22
  2. ^ a b c d e f "A short biography of Major General Gabi Ashkenazi", Haaretz, 2007-01-22. Retrieved on 2007-01-22
  3. ^ a b "Security and Defense: Modern-day 'Motta'", The Jerusalem Post, 2007-01-25. Retrieved on 2007-01-27
  4. ^ Lori, Aviva. "Literary license", Haaretz, 2005-06-17. Retrieved on 2007-02-26
  5. ^ Curriculum Vitae — The Chief of the General Staff. Israel Defense Forces (2007-02-14). Retrieved on 2007-02-14.
v • d • eChiefs of Staff of theIsrael Defense ForcesYaakov Dori(1947-49) · Yigael Yadin(1949-52) · Mordechai Maklef(1952-53) · Moshe Dayan(1953-58) · Haim Laskov(1958-61) · Tzvi Tzur(1961-64) · Yitzhak Rabin(1964-68) · Haim Bar-Lev(1968-72) · David Elazar(1972-74) · Mordechai Gur(1974-78) · Rafael Eitan(1978-83) · Moshe Levi(1983-87) · Dan Shomron(1987-91) · Ehud Barak(1991-95) · Amnon Lipkin-Shahak(1995-98) · Shaul Mofaz(1998-2002) · Moshe Ya'alon(2002-05) · Dan Halutz(2005-07) · Gabi Ashkenazi (since 2007) Categories: Chiefs of Staff of the Israel Defense Forces | 1954 births | Living people | Israeli Jews

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