February 14th, one year ago, Major General Benny Gantz was officially promoted to the rank of a lieutenant general and was appointed as the IDF (Zahal)’s 20th Chief of the General Staff.

It’s been an eventful year in the Israel Defense Forces; a year full of exercises and drills, cooperation with foreign armies, achievements, technological advancements, ongoing war against terror and those looking to harm Israel and its civilians.

We have compiled twelve memorable monthly photos that represent Lt. Gen. Gantz’s first year as the commander of the Israel Defense Forces.

February 2011:

A Year in Photos: One Year Anniversary of Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz
Honorary Guard Appointing Lt. Gen. Gantz As New IDF (Zahal) Chief of Staff. Photo Credit: Ori Shifrin

On February 14, 2011, Major General Benny Gantz was appointed IDF (Zahal) Chief of the General Staff and received the rank of lieutenant general at a national ceremony held in the prime minister’s office. Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz replaced Lt. Gen. (res.) Gabi Ashkenazi, who served as Chief of Staff for four years, and retired from the IDF (Zahal) after 40 years of service. Lt. Gen. Gantz is Israel’s 20th IDF (Zahal) Chief of the General Staff.

The ceremony was held in the presence of Israel’s Prime Minister Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Mr. Ehud Barak and other honored guests. The ceremony was also attended by former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the United States Military, Admiral Michael G. Mullen, who arrived in Israel especially to participate in the farewell events for Lt. Gen. Ashkenazi.

March 2011:

A Year in Photos: One Year Anniversary of Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz
Lt. Gen. Gantz In Front of the Newly Deployed “Iron Dome” System. Photo Credit: Ori Shifrin

On March 25, Lt. Gen. Gantz ordered, in accordance with government directives, to deploy the “Iron Dome” system across Southern Israel to protect the civilian population from rockets fired from Gaza.

The system is the first of its kind; in terms of speed, accuracy and capability, there was no other system like it in the world. As soon as an enemy rocket is fired into Israel, the system fires a counter-missile which will intercept the rocket.

April 2011:

A Year in Photos: One Year Anniversary of Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz

Lt. Gen. Gantz welcomes the IDF (Zahal) aid delegation to Japan. Photo Credit: Michael Shvedron

Following the natural disasters in Japan, the IDF (Zahal) sent an aid delegation to Japan including 50 people and 80 tons of equipment to assist in the rebuilding of the damaged city.

After successfully completing their mission and treating 220 patients, the delegation to Japan returned to Israel and landed at the Nevatim air force base. Lt. Gen. Gantz was there to greet them, and said:

“Israel’s advantage is its people. We have fulfilled our task in the best way possible. As a people that have suffered gravely in our past, we have a moral obligation to help those in need. We send our condolences to the Japanese people and we are pleased that we could lend a hand and assist. ”

May 2011:

A Year in Photos: One Year Anniversary of Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz

Lt. Gen. Gantz along with two of the three sole surviving children of the Itamar family. Photo Credit: Ori Shifrin

The IDF (Zahal) Chief of the General Staff, Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, arrived at the scene of the crime where five Israeli civilians were murdered in a deadly terror attack that occurred in the Israeli community of Itamar. He visited the home of the family, consoled the grandparents and joined a security assessment with Maj. Gen. Mizrahi.

Following a man hunt over the course of the next few weeks, the assailants were identified after having happily confessing to the savage killings. Pictured above: Lt. Gen. Gantz along with two of the three sole surviving children of the Itamar family.

June 2011:

A Year in Photos: One Year Anniversary of Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz

Lt. Gen. Gantz awarding the ranks to Maj. Gen. Barbivai. Photo Credit: Ori Shifrin

The IDF (Zahal) proudly welcomed its first-ever female Major General Orna Barbivai, who was promoted as Chief of the Manpower Directorate. Her rank is the IDF (Zahal)’s second-highest, directly reporting to Lt. Gen. Gantz. Maj. Gen. Barbivai has served in the IDF (Zahal) for 30 years and has done much for the directorate, including her important work on gender equality in the army.

July 2011:

A Year in Photos: One Year Anniversary of Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz
IDF (Zahal) Chief of Staff Benny Gantz and US Admiral Michael G. Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Photo Credit: Ori Shifrin

US Admiral Michael G. Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, arrived for his last visit on active duty on July 18, 2011. Adm. Mullen was hosted by Lt. Gen. Gantz, who held an honorary farewell dinner attended by senior IDF (Zahal) commanders–all who conveyed their utmost appreciation and respect.

Read more about Adm. Mullen’s contribution to the strong ties between Israel and the US.

August 2011:

A Year in Photos: One Year Anniversary of Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz

Maj. Gen. Russo, Ehud Barak and Lt. Gen. Gantz

Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz spearheaded the military response to the multi-pronged terror attack where eight people were killed and at least 40 others were injured. In the premeditated attack, terrorists targeted Israeli civilians who were on their way to Eilat, a popular tourist destination for summer vacations. All of the incidents took place near the Israel-Egypt border. According to Israeli intelligence, the terrorists originated from Gaza.

September 2011:

A Year in Photos: One Year Anniversary of Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz
Commander of the US-European Command and IDF (Zahal) Chief of Staff.  Photo Credit: Iris Lainer

Lt. Gen. Gantz hosted the US European Command (EUCOM), Admiral James Stavridis, during a two-day work visit. Over the course of his visit, Admiral Stavridis toured a number of facilities throughout the country, including a site of an “Iron Dome” battery.

This was the Admiral’s third visit to Israel and his first of 2011. Later on, Lt. Gen. Gantz returned the favor and visited Adm. Stavridis in a NATO conference.

October 2011:

A Year in Photos: One Year Anniversary of Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz

Lt. Gen. Gantz welcomes SFC Gilad Shalit

SFC Gilad Shalit returned to Israel after five years in captivity. He was greeted by the Prime Minister, Minister of Defense and the IDF (Zahal) Chief of the General Staff before his return to his parents.

Gilad Shalit (rank at the time: Cpl.) was kidnapped early Sunday morning on June 25, 2006. A terrorist cell attacked Shalit’s tank that was defending the security fence near the southern Gaza Strip. The terrorists crossed the border using an underground tunnel dug near the Kerem Shalom crossing. During the attack, the tank commander, Lt. Hanan Barak, and another soldier in the tank, Staff Sgt. Pavel Slotzker were killed. Four of the soldiers in the post were injured and terrorists kidnapped Shalit, and taking him into the Gaza Strip via the tunnel.

November 2011:

A Year in Photos: One Year Anniversary of Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz

Lt. Gen. Gantz touring the Navy Bases. Photo Credit: Shay Wagner

As part of his tour of Israel’s naval bases, Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz met with combat soldiers stationed on a Navy missile boat.

Speaking with the soldiers, Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gantz emphasized the Navy’s challenge in fighting the smuggling of weapons into the Gaza Strip and upholding the naval blockade on Gaza. He also expressed appreciation for the soldier’s service in the past year.

December 2011:

A Year in Photos: One Year Anniversary of Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz

Lt. Gen. Gantz visiting the drill. Photo Credit: Ori Shifrin

The Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen Benny Gantz visited an exercise conducted by the Golani Brigade’s reconnaissance battalion. The drill took place in the Golan Heights, one of the toughest natural battlefields. Lt. Gen Gantz heard from the soldiers about their day to day activity, and presented to them the challenges that Israel’s northern front faces.

January 2012:

A Year in Photos: One Year Anniversary of Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz

Lt. Gen. Gantz welcoming four-star General Martin E. Dempsey. Photo Credit: Ori Shifrin

The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the United States Military, four-star General Martin E. Dempsey arrived on Thursday, January 19th, 2012, for a short visit to Israel during a visit to the region. This was General Dempsey’s first visit to Israel, hosted by Lt. Gen. Gantz.

During his visit, General Dempsey held a private meeting with Lt. Gen. Gantz, as well as a briefing with senior commanders of the General Staff, focusing on cooperation between the two militaries, as well as mutual security challenges.

February 2012:

A Year in Photos: One Year Anniversary of Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz

Lt. Gen. Gantz visiting Mount Hermon. Photo Credit: Ori Shifrin

The Israeli winter is usually pretty light and thus the Hermon is snow-capped only during certain parts of the year; however, the Alpine Unit, the elite winter-climate warfare unit of the IDF (Zahal), trains to be prepared in any scenario.

Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz oversaw the yearly training drill in which soldiers operate under conditions of snow, sleet, and dangerous weather uncommon to Israel.