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IDF Central Command head leaves post

Maj. Gen. Yehuda Fox handed over the reins to Maj. Gen. Avi Bluth.

Maj. Gen. Yehuda Fox at the Jerusalem Day ceremony at Ammunition Hill in the city on June 5, 2024. Photo by Arie Leib Abrams/Flash90.
Maj. Gen. Yehuda Fox at the Jerusalem Day ceremony at Ammunition Hill in the city on June 5, 2024. Photo by Arie Leib Abrams/Flash90.

Maj. Gen. Yehuda Fox, head of the IDF Central Command, which includes Judea and Samaria, concluded his 37-year military career on Monday, handing the reins to Maj. Gen. Avi Bluth.

Fox, 55, informed IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi in April that he planned to return to civilian life. He attributed the decision to fatigue and the sense that he had nothing more to contribute to Israel’s defense.

Fox was set to formally hand over control to Bluth during a ceremony on Monday evening at the Central Command headquarters in the northern Jerusalem neighborhood of Neve Ya’akov. Right-wing coalition lawmakers, as well as representatives of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, were expected to boycott the event.

Over the past years, Fox’s policies in Judea and Samaria have regularly been criticized by Israeli residents, right-wing activists and politicians.

Judea and Samaria saw a dramatic rise in terrorist attacks in recent months, with shootings reaching their highest level since the Second Intifada of 2000 tp 2005, according to official IDF data.

However, Fox repeatedly ignored government and public calls to restore IDF security checkpoints and roadblocks near Palestinian terrorist hotspots in the Jordan Valley and northern Samaria, critics charged.

Last year, Israel Hayom claimed that Fox had decided to unilaterally undercut government policy by reducing the military personnel tasked with the enforcement of Palestinian construction violations.

Earlier this year, Fox ordered the destruction of six Jewish homes in eastern Gush Etzion. He bypassed regular procedure in ordering the demolitions, taking the issue directly to Defense Minister Yoav Gallant.

In the wake of Hamas’s Oct. 7 attacks, Judea and Samaria residents formed a protest group in response to Fox’s decision to green-light Palestinian olive harvesting close to Israeli communities, even after several Arabs were caught observing security procedures.

Tensions reached a boiling point in February when IDF soldiers were ordered to conduct a training exercise that included a scenario simulating the kidnapping of Arabs by Jewish residents of Samaria.

“Today, we are saying goodbye to Yehuda Fox, the commanding general of Central Command, who sealed the security failure in Judea and Samaria,” right-wing activist Elisha Yered tweeted on Monday, adding: “We will not miss you. Let’s hope that your replacement will be able to repair the damage you left here before it’s too late.”

Bluth previously commanded the Judea and Samaria Division and served as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s military secretary from 2018 until 2021, when the premier was voted out.

During his tenure as the commander of the Judea and Samaria Division, Bluth led the July 2023 counterterrorism operation in Jenin, Samaria.

Bluth, who is married and the father of six daughters, holds a B.A. in philosophy, economy and political science from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and an M.A. in strategic thinking from the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, Pa.

He grew up in Neve Tzuf in the Binyamin region of Samaria and studied at the Bnei David religious pre-military academy in Eli. He is the school’s first alumnus to be promoted to the rank of major general.

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