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Gabi Ashkenazi

(1954 - )

Gabi Ashkenazi is an Israeli soldier and former Chief of Staff of the Israel Defense Forces.

Ashkenazi (born February 25, 1954) was born and grew up in Hagor, a moshav in central Israel. He began his military service in the Golani Infantry Brigade in 1972 and served in the Sinai Peninsula during the 1973 Yom Kippur War.

In July 1976, he was a platoon leader in Operation Entebbe to rescue kidnapped Israeli hostages held in Uganda. He first served in Lebanon in 1978, during Operation Litani. During the 1982 Lebanon War, Ashkenazi served as Deputy Commander of the Golani Brigade and was promoted to Commander in 1986.

In 1988, Ashkenazi was appointed head of Intelligence for the Northern Command. In the early 1990s, he commanded a reserve armor division and then went on to serve as head of Israel's Lebanon liaison unit. In 1994, he was promoted to Chief of the General Staff's Operations Division. In 1996, he was promoted to the rank of Major General and to the position of Aide to Chief of the Operations Branch. In 1998 he was appointed GOC Northern Command, a position in which he oversaw Israel's withdrawal from the security zone in southern Lebanon, bringing to an end Israel's 18-year presence there.

Appointed IDF Deputy Chief of Staff in 2002, Ashkenazi was in charge of the construction of the West Bank security fence, erected to prevent terrorist attacks within Israel. He resigned from the IDF in May 2005 when Dan Halutz was appointed IDF Chief of Staff.

Gabi Ashkenazi was appointed Director General of the Ministry of Defense in July 2006. In February 2007, he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant-General and appointed 19th Chief of the General Staff of the Israeli Defense Forces, a post he held until his retirement from the army in February 2011.

Ashkenazi is a graduate of the Command and Staff College of the IDF and the Command and Staff College of the U.S. Marine Corps in Quantico, Virginia. He also holds a B.A. degree in Political Science from Tel Aviv University and a degree in International  Business Administration from Harvard University.

He is married and has two children.

Sources: Israeli Foreign Ministry; Wikipedia