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The Chief of General Staff ( , Rosh HaMateh HaKlali, abbr. Ramatkal— ) is the supreme commander and Chief of Staff of the Israel Defense Forces. The Chief of Staff is the only active Israeli officer with the rank of Rav Aluf ( ) at any given time. It is the highest rank in the IDF, equivalent to the rank of Lieutenant General (or General) in Western armies.

Legal position

The Ramatkal's position 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 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 January 22, 2007, the Chief of General Staff is Gabi Ashkenazi.


Given the importance of the IDF in Israeli society, the Chief of Staff is a highly-respected and public figure. Former Chiefs of Staff frequently parlay the prominence of their position into political life. Two Chiefs of 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 Knessetmarker. Of these, only Tzur was not appointed to the Cabinet.

List of IDF Chiefs of Staff

  1. Yaakov Dori (1947–49)
  2. Yigael Yadin (1949–52)
  3. Mordechai Maklef (1952–53)
  4. Moshe Dayan (1953–58)
  5. Haim Laskov (1958–61)
  6. Tzvi Tzur (1961–64)
  7. Yitzhak Rabin (1964–68)
  8. Haim Bar-Lev (1968–72)
  9. David Elazar (1972–74)
  10. Mordechai Gur (1974–78)
  11. Rafael Eitan (1978–83)
  12. Moshe Levi (1983–87)
  13. Dan Shomron (1987–91)
  14. Ehud Barak (1991–95)
  15. Amnon Lipkin-Shahak (1995–98)
  16. Shaul Mofaz (1998–2002)
  17. Moshe Ya'alon (2002–05)
  18. Dan Halutz (2005–2007)
  19. Gabi Ashkenazi (2007–)

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