Chief of the General Staff (Israel)

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Chief of the General Staff
Hebrew: ראש המטה הכללי
Flag of IDF Chief of Staff.svg
Flag of the Chief of the General Staff
160804-D-PB383-018 (28695500081) (cropped).jpg
Rav Aluf Gadi Eizenkot

since 16 February 2015
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

The Chief of the General Staff, also known as the Commander-in-Chief of the Israel Defense Forces (Hebrew: ראש המטה הכללי‬, Rosh HaMateh HaKlali, abbr. Ramatkalרמטכ"ל‬), is the supreme commander and head of the Israel Defense Forces.

At any given time, the Chief of the General Staff is the only active officer holding the IDF's highest rank, rav aluf (Hebrew: רב-אלוף‎), 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 (Ramatkal or rav aluf (Hebrew: רב-אלוף)) 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.

Legal position

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 16 February 2015, the Chief of the General Staff is Gadi Eizenkot.


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

Chief of the General Staff Took office Left office Time in office
Yaakov Dori
Dori, YaakovRav Aluf
Yaakov Dori
1 June 1947 9 November 1949 2 years, 161 days
Yigael Yadin
Yadin, YigaelRav Aluf
Yigael Yadin
9 November 1949 7 December 1952 3 years, 28 days
Mordechai Maklef
Maklef, MordechaiRav Aluf
Mordechai Maklef
7 December 1952 6 December 1953 364 days
Moshe Dayan
Dayan, MosheRav Aluf
Moshe Dayan
6 December 1953 29 January 1958 4 years, 54 days
Haim Laskov
Laskov, HaimRav Aluf
Haim Laskov
29 January 1958 1 January 1961 2 years, 338 days
Tzvi Tzur
Laskov, HaimRav Aluf
Tzvi Tzur
1 January 1961 1 January 1964 3 years, 0 days
Yitzhak Rabin
Rabin, YitzhakRav Aluf
Yitzhak Rabin
1 January 1964 1 January 1968 4 years, 0 days
Haim Bar-Lev
Bar-Lev, HaimRav Aluf
Haim Bar-Lev
1 January 1968 1 January 1972 4 years, 0 days
David Elazar
Elazar, DavidRav Aluf
David Elazar
1 January 1972 3 April 1974 2 years, 92 days
Yitzhak Hofi
Hofi, YitzhakAluf
Yitzhak Hofi
3 April 1974 16 April 1974 13 days
Mordechai Gur
Gur, MordechaiRav Aluf
Mordechai Gur
16 April 1974 16 April 1978 4 years, 0 days
Rafael Eitan
Eitan, RafaelRav Aluf
Rafael Eitan
16 April 1978 19 April 1983 5 years, 3 days
Moshe Levi
Levi, MosheRav Aluf
Moshe Levi
19 April 1983 19 April 1987 4 years, 0 days
Dan Shomron
Shomron, DanRav Aluf
Dan Shomron
19 April 1987 1 April 1991 3 years, 347 days
Ehud Barak
Barak, EhudRav Aluf
Ehud Barak
(born 1942)
1 April 1991 1 January 1995 3 years, 275 days
Amnon Lipkin-Shahak
Lipkin-Shahak, AmnonRav Aluf
Amnon Lipkin-Shahak
1 January 1995 9 July 1998 3 years, 189 days
Shaul Mofaz
Mofaz, ShaulRav Aluf
Shaul Mofaz
(born 1948)
9 July 1998 9 July 2002 4 years, 0 days
Moshe Ya'alon
Ya'alon, MosheRav Aluf
Moshe Ya'alon
(born 1950)
9 July 2002 1 June 2005 2 years, 327 days
Dan Halutz
Halutz, DanRav Aluf
Dan Halutz
(born 1948)
1 June 2005 14 February 2007 1 year, 258 days
Gabi Ashkenazi
Ashkenazi, GabiRav Aluf
Gabi Ashkenazi
(born 1954)
14 February 2007 14 February 2011 4 years, 0 days
Benny Gantz
Gantz, BennyRav Aluf
Benny Gantz
(born 1959)
14 February 2011 16 February 2015 4 years, 2 days
Gadi Eizenkot
Eizenkot, GadiRav Aluf
Gadi Eizenkot
(born 1960)
16 February 2015 Incumbent 3 years, 297 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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