Born In: Kfar Ahim, Israel
Benny Gantz is an Israeli former military leader who serves as the current defense minister and the deputy prime minister of his country. He studied at local schools and then attended the IDF Command and Headquarters College and the National Security College. After obtaining degrees from the Tel Aviv University and the University of Haifa, he secured a master’s degree from the National Defense University in the U.S. He joined the IDF paratroopers in 1977. He fought in the first and the second Lebanon Wars and the South Lebanon conflict. In 2011, he became Israel’s chief of general staff. During his tenure, he made Orna Barbivai the first woman major general of Israel’s defense forces. In December 2018, he joined politics and established the Israel Resilience Party. The following year, Benny and Yair Lapid of Yesh Atid formed the Blue and White alliance. However, after three failed attempts to form the government, the alliance broke up. In 2020, Benny took over as the deputy prime minister and defense minister to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He is scheduled to become the prime minister in 2021, if the ruling government survives till then. He now lives in Rosh HaAyin with his wife, Revital, and his four children.
Spouse/Ex-: Revital Gantz
father: Nahum Ganz
mother: Malka Gantz
children: Nadav Gantz
Born Country: Israel
education: National Defense University, University of Haifa, Tel Aviv University
awards: Commander of the Legion of Merit
Legionnaire of Legion of Merit
Benjamin “Benny” Gantz was born on June 9, 1959, in Kfar Ahim, a village located in southern Israel.
Benny’s mother, Malka hailed from Hungary and had survived the Nazi Holocaust. His father, Nahum, was Romanian. Later, the British forces arrested Nahum while he was trying to enter Palestine illegally. Benny’s parents were part of the group that founded the agricultural community named the Moshav Kfar Ahim.
Benny studied at the local Shafir High School in Merkaz Shapira. He then joined a boarding school in the HaKfar HaYarok village in Ramat Ha-Sharon.
Following this, he graduated from the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) Command and Headquarters College and the National Security College. He obtained a bachelor’s degree in history from Tel Aviv University.
He also earned a master’s degree in political science from the University of Haifa. He then joined the National Defense University in the U.S. and earned another master’s degree, in national resources management.
Benny Gantz joined the IDF in 1977, at 18, and was drafted as a soldier in the Paratroopers Brigade. His debut mission involved being part of the security team in charge of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat's Israel visit.
As a paratrooper, Benny was part of the Operation Litani in March 1978 and a June 1978 raid against a Fatah base in Lebanon.
In 1979, he finished his officer’s training and formally started his military career. After completing his training in the U.S. Army Special Forces, Benny fought in the First Lebanon War in 1982. He was also the leader of the 890 Efe (Echis) paratroop battalion involved in the counter-guerrilla operations in the South Lebanon security zone.
He was posted as a commander at the Shaldag Air Force Commando Unit from 1989 to 1992. In 1991, he was the commander of the 36-hour Operation Solomon in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, that involved airlifting of 14,000 Ethiopian Jews to Israel.
He was a commander of the 35th Paratroopers Brigade from 1995 to 1997. He commanded the Reserves Division in the Northern Command, the Lebanon Liaison Unit, and the Judea & Samaria Division from 2000 to 2002.
He was the Ground Forces Commander from 2005 to 2007 and the military attaché in the United States from 2007 to 2009. He also commanded in senior positions in the Second Intifada and the Second Lebanon War in 2006.
The Knesset made Benny Israel’s 20th chief of general staff on February 13, 2011. He was also made a lieutenant general.
In May 2011, Israel’s defense minister, Ehud Barak, and Benny appointed Orna Barbivai as the head of the IDF Manpower Directorate. With this, she became the first woman major general in the history of IDF.
In July that year, Benny formed a special committee to look into the issue regarding the mention of the word “Elohim” ("God") in the military Yizkor prayer. The committee changed the portion of the prayer that meant "May God remember" to one that meant "May the Nation of Israel remember."
In October 2011, Benny approved the exchange of Palestinian prisoners for the release of Gilad Shalit, an IDF soldier who had been kidnapped.
Benny led the IDF’s Operation Pillar of Defense in November 2012. He also commanded the 2014 Operation Protective Edge.
On February 16, 2015, after completing his term as the chief of the general staff of Israel, Benny Gantz stepped into a 3-year period during which he was not eligible to run for the Knesset.
With the end of this period in July 2018, he announced he would formally enter politics. In December that year, he created the Israel Resilience Party (“Hosen LeYisrael”), which contested in the April 2019 elections.
In 2019, Benny Gantz joined hands with Yair Lapid of Yesh Atid to establish the Blue and White (“Kahol Lavan”) alliance. Both the Likud and Benny’s alliance won 35 seats in the April elections, but Likud had more votes.
The prime minister could not create a coalition government. Thus, another election was held in September, in which the Blue and White alliance won 33 seats and Likud won 31. Nevertheless, no decision on the government could be made.
On March 2, 2020, a third election took place. This election, too, did not result in any concrete majority for any party. Benny, however, wanted to avoid a fourth election.
On March 26, 2020, he thus broke his vow of not serving under a prime minister charged with crimes and declared he would join hands with Benjamin Netanyahu. As a result, the Blue and White alliance disintegrated. The same day, Benny became the 17th speaker of the Knesset (and served till May 17, 2020).
Benny Gantz signed a deal with Netanyahu on April 20, 2020, and established a “national emergency government.” Thus, Netanyahu will continue to serve as the prime minister of Israel for 18 months, while Benny will serve as the prime minister-designate and the deputy prime minister. He will also serve as the defense minister of the country. Benny assumed office (in his new roles) on May 17, 2020.
According to the agreement, Benny is scheduled to become the prime minister in October 2021, if the government survives till then.
In February 2012, General Martin Dempsey of the U.S. presented Benny Gantz the Legion of Merit award on behalf of the U.S. president.
In March 2010, reports claimed that Benny Gantz had extended the perimeter of his yard illegally and had encroached upon a small piece of public property. He later denied that the land was public property but removed the deck he had built.
In February 2019, Benny Gantz was accused by an Israeli–American woman of exposing himself to her 40 years back. Benny denied the allegation and sued her for defamation.
Benny Gantz is married to Revital. The couple has four children, Nadav, Nir, Noga, and Noam. The family lives in Rosh HaAyin.
Benny and Revital had apparently met while he was in the paratrooper’s brigade. In 2012, their son Nadav joined the paratroopers.
In January 2018, Benny’s rivals (primarily right-wing rapper The Shadow) accused Revital of being part of the Machsom Watch, a human rights group that monitors the behavior of Israeli soldiers at border checkpoints. The allegations were dismissed by Benny.
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