Israel's incoming Minister of Defense Benny Gantz may be a relative newcomer on the local political scene but he has accumulated decades of experience in national security matters.
A son of Holocaust survivors, Gantz served for nearly four decades in the IDF. Originally a member of the Paratrooper Brigade, he later became commander of the elite "Shaldag" unit, commander of the Liaison Unit with Lebanon, commander of the Judea and Samaria division, head of the IDF Northern Command, head of the Ground Forces Command, and deputy chief of staff before serving as the IDF's 20th chief of staff from 2011 until 2015. Gantz also served as Israel's military attache in Washington.
The former military chief, who was elected to the 21st Knesset as head of the Blue and White party, broke with his political allies and agreed to join a national unity government. Under a power-sharing deal with incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Gantz is to serve as alternate prime minister before succeeding him in 18 months.
Gantz is expected to deal with a series of key issues such as the budget for the IDF's multiyear plan, ongoing operations against the spread of COVID-19, the security situation in Judea and Samaria, and external threats facing the country.
He takes over from outgoing Defense Minister Naftali Bennett who has held the position since November 2019.