Israel appoints new Air Force chief

Israel appointed Major General Amir Eshel as its new Air Force chief amid speculations of an aerial strike on Iran.

Updated: Feb 06, 2012, 11:50 AM IST

Jerusalem: Israel on Sunday appointed Major General Amir Eshel as its new Air Force chief amid speculations of a potential Israeli aerial strike on Iranian
nuclear installations. Eshel, who headed Army`s strategic planning division and recently expressed concerns that the Islamic Republic`s nuclearisation could also limit options against its "guerrilla allies", has been named the next chief of Israel Air Force.

Israel Defence Forces (IDF) spokesman in a statement said that Defence Minister Ehud Barak on Sunday accepted the decision by Army chief, Benny Gantz, to appoint Eshel, 52, to the post.

He will be replacing Major General Ido Nehushtan. Eshel, who was reported to be Gantz`s pick for the post, won out over Brigadier General Yohanan Locker, who is Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu`s military secretary and preference for the post.

Reports quoting US officials have suggested that Israel might be planning to attack Iran`s nuclear facilities in the spring.

Israel and other countries believe Iran is developing nuclear weapons, a charge Iran denies.

The apparent lack of agreement between Netanyahu and Gantz is said to have delayed the appointment.

Eshel had recently voiced concerns over a nuclear armed Iran saying it could deter Israel from going to war against Tehran`s guerrilla allies in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip, referring to Hezbollah and Hamas.

He made it clear that Israel worries that Syria and Lebanon`s Hezbollah militia as well as Palestinian Hamas Islamists who rule Gaza could one day find reassurance in an Iranian bomb.