- 1. Biography
Benjamin Gantz is an Israeli politician and retired army general serving as the minister of Defense since 2020 and deputy prime minister of Israel since 2021. He previously served as the alternate prime minister of Israel from 2020 to 2021.
He served as the 20th chief of General Staff of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) from 2011 to 2015. In December 2018, he entered politics by establishing a new political party named Israel Resilience. The party later allied itself with Telem and Yesh Atid to form Blue and White (Hebrew: Kaḥol Lavan), the colours of the Israeli national flag. Gantz's Blue and White alliance platform includes introducing prime ministerial term limits, barring indicted politicians from serving in the Knesset, amending the nation-state law to include Israeli minorities, limiting the power of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel over marriages, investing in early education, expanding health care, and re-entering negotiations with the Palestinian Authority for a peace agreement.
Gantz was the 17th Speaker of the Knesset from 26 March 2020 to 17 May 2020. On 20 April 2020, Gantz agreed to join a rotation government with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Under the terms of the agreement, Gantz would serve as Alternate Prime Minister and Minister of Defense, before succeeding Netanyahu as Prime Minister of Israel in November 2021. However, the coalition collapsed, resulting in another election in 2021. As defense minister, Gantz was in charge of Operation Guardian of the Walls in Gaza. In June 2021, he was reappointed Defense Minister and became Deputy Prime Minister.
Benjamin Gantz was born in Kfar Ahim, Israel, in 1959. His mother Malka was a Holocaust survivor, originally from Mezőkovácsháza, Hungary. His father Nahum came from Sovata, Székely Land, Romania, and was arrested by the British authorities for trying to enter Palestine illegally, before reaching Israel. His parents were among the founders of Moshav Kfar Ahim, a cooperative agricultural community in south-central Israel. In his youth, he attended the Shafir High School in Merkaz Shapira, and boarding school at the HaKfar HaYarok youth village in Ramat HaSharon.
Gantz is a graduate of the IDF Command and Staff College and the National Security College. He holds a bachelor's degree in history from Tel Aviv University, a master's degree in political science from the University of Haifa, and an additional master's degree in National Resources Management from the National Defense University in the United States. Gantz is married to Revital, with whom he has four children. He lives in Rosh HaAyin.
In February 2011, following the government decision to promote Gantz to Chief of the General Staff, Attorney Avi'ad Vissuli of the Forum for the Land of Israel unsuccessfully petitioned to revoke the appointment.
In February 2019, an Israeli-American woman accused Gantz of exposing himself to her 40 years earlier, causing her traumatic disorders. Gantz denied all allegations, claiming that such an incident never took place, and that the allegations were politically motivated. Gantz has since sued the woman for defamation.