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, romanizedRosh hamateh haklali, abbreviated Ramatkalרמטכ"ל‎), is the supreme commander and head of the Israel Defense Forces. The current Chief of the General Staff is Aviv Kochavi.

Chief of the General Staff
ראש המטה הכללי
Armoiries de l'état major de tsahal.svg
Flag of IDF Chief of Staff.svg
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
Term length3 years;
Formation1 June 1947; 75 years ago (1947-06-01)
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 only 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.[1] 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 role of the Chief of the General Staff began with the Haganah organization, where it was named after the head of the general staff of the Haganah. With the establishment of the IDF, the Chief of Defense and the Chief of Staff, headed by Yaakov Dori, were converted to head the IDF.[2]

The chief of staff is officially appointed for a three-year term, which can be extended for another year. An exception was Rafael Eitan, whose term was extended twice, and he served a total of five years.[3] On the other hand, there were several chiefs of staff who did not complete their full term: Yigal Yadin resigned amid disagreements over the IDF budget,[4] Mordechai Maklef served for only one year at his request,[5] David Elazar was forced to resign following the recommendations of the Agranat Commission investigating the Yom Kippur War,[6] and Dan Halutz resigned due to criticism of the Second Lebanon War.[7] Also, two chiefs of staff have given up part of their tenure extension: Amnon Lipkin-Shahak wanted to end his term in the middle of the fourth year, due to his desire to move into politics and run for prime minister. Haim Laskov asked not to serve a fourth year due to his disagreements with Shimon Peres.[citation needed]

In 2005, Ariel Sharon and Shaul Mofaz did not extend Moshe Ya'alon's term to a fourth year,[8] during which he was interpreted as a dismissal in light of Ya'alon's opposition to the disengagement plan. In order to prevent such problems in the future, and as was done for other positions such as that of the President of the State, Defense Minister Amir Peretz appointed Major General Gabi Ashkenazi in 2007 for a period of four years, thus removing the uncertainty regarding the addition of the fourth year. Ashkenazi raised the issue of extending his term to a fifth year.[9]

At the end of his term, the Chief of Staff (like other senior members of the Israeli defense establishment) has a cooling-off period of three years before he can be elected a Member of the Knesset, be appointed a Minister in the Government or be elected Prime Minister.[citation needed]

Legal positionEdit

The position of ramatkal is defined in the Basic Law: The Military (1976), clause three:[10]

  • 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.


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. Former Chiefs of the General Staff often parlay the prominence of their position into political life, and sometimes the business world.[citation needed] Two Chiefs of the General Staff (Yitzhak Rabin and Ehud Barak) have become Prime Minister of Israel[11][12] and eleven others (Yigael Yadin, Moshe Dayan, Tzvi Tzur, Haim Bar-Lev, Mordechai Gur, Rafael Eitan, Amnon Lipkin-Shahak, Shaul Mofaz, Moshe Ya'alon, Gabi Ashkenazi, and Benny Gantz) have served in the Knesset.[13] Of these, only Tzur did not get appointed to the Cabinet.

Six former Chiefs of the General Staff (Dayan, Rabin, Barak, Mofaz, Ya'alon, and Gantz) held the position of Defense Minister, widely considered to be one of the most powerful ministerial posts in the country and the immediate civilian superior of the Chief of the General Staff.[citation needed] The current holder of the post (as of March 2021) is former Chief of Staff Benny Gantz. Moshe Dayan served also as Foreign Minister. Soon after his discharge, Dan Halutz became the CEO of a prestigious car importer.[14] Ehud Barak took a hiatus from politics twice after defeats for re-election and pursued international business ventures.[citation needed]

List of Chiefs of the General StaffEdit

The Chiefs of the General Staff have been:

No. Portrait Chief of the General Staff Took office Left office Time in office Ref.
Dori, YaakovRav aluf
Yaakov Dori
1 June 19479 November 19492 years, 161 days[15][2]
Yadin, YigaelRav aluf
Yigael Yadin
9 November 19497 December 19523 years, 28 days[15][4]
Maklef, MordechaiRav aluf
Mordechai Maklef
7 December 19526 December 1953364 days[15][5]
Dayan, MosheRav aluf
Moshe Dayan
6 December 195329 January 19584 years, 54 days[15][16]
Laskov, HaimRav aluf
Haim Laskov
29 January 19581 January 19612 years, 338 days[15][17]
Tzur, TzviRav aluf
Tzvi Tzur
1 January 19611 January 19643 years[15][18]
Rabin, YitzhakRav aluf
Yitzhak Rabin
1 January 19641 January 19684 years[15][11]
Bar-Lev, HaimRav aluf
Haim Bar-Lev
1 January 19681 January 19724 years[15][1]
Elazar, DavidRav aluf
David Elazar
1 January 19723 April 19742 years, 92 days[15][6]
Hofi, YitzhakAluf
Yitzhak Hofi
3 April 197416 April 197413 days[15]
Gur, MordechaiRav aluf
Mordechai Gur
16 April 197416 April 19784 years[15]
Eitan, RafaelRav aluf
Rafael Eitan
16 April 197819 April 19835 years, 3 days[15]
Levi, MosheRav aluf
Moshe Levi
19 April 198319 April 19874 years[15]
Shomron, DanRav aluf
Dan Shomron
19 April 19871 April 19913 years, 347 days[15]
Barak, EhudRav aluf
Ehud Barak
(born 1942)
1 April 19911 January 19953 years, 275 days[15][12]
Lipkin-Shahak, AmnonRav aluf
Amnon Lipkin-Shahak
1 January 19959 July 19983 years, 189 days[15]
Mofaz, ShaulRav aluf
Shaul Mofaz
(born 1948)
9 July 19989 July 20024 years[15]
Ya'alon, MosheRav aluf
Moshe Ya'alon
(born 1950)
9 July 20021 June 20052 years, 327 days[15]
Halutz, DanRav aluf
Dan Halutz
(born 1948)
1 June 200514 February 20071 year, 258 days[15]
Ashkenazi, GabiRav aluf
Gabi Ashkenazi
(born 1954)
14 February 200714 February 20114 years[15]
Gantz, BennyRav aluf
Benny Gantz
(born 1959)
14 February 201116 February 20154 years, 2 days[15][19]
Eizenkot, GadiRav aluf
Gadi Eizenkot
(born 1960)
16 February 201515 January 20193 years, 333 days[15][20]
Kochavi, AvivRav aluf
Aviv Kochavi
(born 1964)
15 January 2019Incumbent3 years, 206 days[21]


Aviv KochaviGadi EizenkotBenny GantzGabi AshkenaziDan HalutzMoshe Ya'alonShaul MofazAmnon Lipkin-ShahakEhud BarakDan ShomronMoshe LeviRafael EitanMordechai GurYitzhak HofiDavid ElazarHaim Bar-LevYitzhak RabinTzvi TzurHaim LaskovMoshe DayanMordechai MaklefYigael YadinYaakov Dori


  1. ^ a b "Lt. Gen. Chaim Bar Lev (1968-1972)". Retrieved 2021-04-01.
  2. ^ a b "Lt. Gen. Yaacov Dori (1948-1949)". Retrieved 2021-04-01.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  3. ^ "Cabinet Extends Eitan's Item; Appoints Mandelbaum As the Governor of the Bank of Israel". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. 1982-01-04. Retrieved 2021-04-01.
  4. ^ a b "Lt. Gen. Yigal Yadin (1949-1952)". Retrieved 2021-04-01.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  5. ^ a b "Lt. Gen. Mordechai Maklef (1952-1953)". Archived from the original on 2021-12-24. Retrieved 2021-04-01.
  6. ^ a b "Lt. Gen. David Elazar (1972-1974)". Archived from the original on 2020-02-02. Retrieved 2021-04-01.
  7. ^ Greenberg, Hanan (2007-01-16). "IDF Chief Halutz resigns". Ynetnews. Archived from the original on 2007-01-18. Retrieved 2021-04-01.
  8. ^ Greenberg, Hanan (2005-02-15). "Mofaz ends Chief of Staff's tenure". Ynetnews. Retrieved 2021-04-01.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  9. ^ Ginsburg, Mitch (2012-03-04). "Timeline of a high-ranking feud". The Times of Israel. Archived from the original on 2012-03-06. Retrieved 2021-09-17.
  10. ^ "Basic Law: The Military". Knesset. Archived from the original on 2003-04-23. Retrieved 2021-04-01.
  11. ^ a b "Lt. Gen. Yitzhak Rabin (1964-1968)". Retrieved 2021-04-01.
  12. ^ a b "Lt. Gen. Ehud Barak (1991-1995)". Archived from the original on 2020-08-13. Retrieved 2021-04-01.
  13. ^ "The virtues and pitfalls of former IDF chiefs of staff entering politics". The Jerusalem Post. Archived from the original on 2020-08-07. Retrieved 2021-04-01.
  14. ^ Hazani, Golan (2007-10-10). "Dan Halutz named CEO of Kamor Motors". Ynetnews. Archived from the original on 2007-10-12. Retrieved 2021-04-01.
  15. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v "Past Chiefs of Staff". Retrieved 11 February 2020.
  16. ^ "Lt. Gen. Moshe Dayan (1953-1958)". Retrieved 2021-04-01.
  17. ^ "Lt. Gen. Haim Laskov (1958-1961)". Retrieved 2021-04-01.
  18. ^ "Lt. Gen. Tzvi Tzur (1961-1963)". Retrieved 2021-04-01.
  19. ^ "Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz Appointed 20th IDF Chief of the General Staff". Israel Defense Forces. 14 February 2011. Retrieved 14 February 2011.
  20. ^ Ginsburg, Mitch. "Maj. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot to be named 21st commander of IDF". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 28 November 2014.
  21. ^ "Outgoing IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot - A look back". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 2021-04-01.