The Spokesperson's Unit of the Israel Defense Forces (Dover Tzahal) is responsible for information policy and external media relations.
- Domestic Press Liason
- Foreign Press
- Public Relations
- Film & Photography Unit
- Information Bureau
- Initiatives & Planning
- Organization & Training
- The Think Tank
- Wartime Responsibilities
The IDF Spokesperson's Unit is headed by the IDF Spokesperson, a member of the
General Staff with the rank of brigadier general who is directly subordinate
to the Chief of Staff. The IDF Spokesperson's official responsibilities,
in peace and war, are:
1.To advise the Chief of Staff on all matters of
communication and information
2. To formulate and implement information policies.
The IDF Spokesperson is assisted by a deputy spokesperson,
with the rank of full colonel. The Unit is divided into several branches
which cover the following areas of activity: domestic and foreign press
liaison, public relations, information, photography, film and video,
organization and training. In addition, a new branch, responsible for
initiatives and planning, has been established to advance and improve
proactive media policies.
Similiar to the IDF as a whole, the IDF Spokespersons
Unit is comprised of a small regular body and a large reserve group.
Reservists cover a wide range of academic professionals in many field,
including journalists, broadcasters, photographers, film makers, university
professors, political scientists, economists, and specialists in graphic
arts, advertising, press and public relations.
Domestic Press Liaison
This branch is the nerve center of the Spokesperson's
Unit. Divided into four sections (print media, local press, electronic
media and monitoring of operational dispatches), it has the following
1. Direct contact with editorial boards of Israeli
newspapers, Israeli journalists and the electronic media.
2. Initiating coverage of all aspects of the IDF and
reporting of military events.
3. Processing requests from all journalists.
4. Gathering data on security matters and assisting
in the preparation of official announcements and press releases.
5. Providing accredited military correspondents with
additional, in-depth information to broaden their perspectives.
6. Monitoring of mass media reporting and providing
As a world center for foreign media, Israel has over
300 full-time foreign news media journalists covering all the major
international TV and radio stations and newspapers. At times of emergency
or major newsworthy events, this number has even reached over 1,500
The Foreign Press branch of the Spokesperson's Unit
is responsible for:
1. Providing foreign correspondents with periodic
briefings with high-ranking military officials and escorting them to
2. Distributing periodical fact sheets and background
papers prepared by the Information Bureau.
3. Assisting the Spokesperson in formulating media
policy for the foreign press.
4. Liaising with the Government Press Office and the
5. Monitoring foreign press coverage of the IDF.
The Public Relations branch is responsible for all
IDF external relations with civilians (but not journalists). Divided
into three sections (visitors, lectures and briefings, and public assistance),
the branch is responsible for the following activities:
1. Assisting Israeli and foreign civilians wishing
to visit military installations.
2. Arranging lectures and briefings for groups of
individuals, clubs, government offices and schools.
3. Coordinating IDF aid to civilians, e.g., rental
of equipment for civilian film makers.
4. Organizing logistics assistance for public events,
e.g., at memorial services.
5.Arranging for the appearance of military entertainment
troupes at public events.
6.Handling requests from authors, students and researchers
for IDF assistance with their projects.
Film and Video Unit & Photography
The Spokesperson's Unit produces both films and stills
A special unit is responsible for films and video;
it activities include:
1. Producing all IDF training, information and documentary
films (including TV commercials).
2. Producing news items for the local and foreign
electronic media market.
3. Documenting classified IDF events using professional
photographers who have been trained in Israel and abroad.
4. Providing archival services of IDF events.
The photography unit, which is under the Domestic
Press Liason branch is responsible for documenting and distributing
photographs of IDF events to the appropriate agencies and other interested
The Information Bureau assists the IDF Spokesperson's
Unit in formulating information policy and producing and releasing printed
material. This is achieved by assessing needs and recommending appropriate
strategy. The Information Bureau has the following responsibilities:
1. Producing informative material, lecture outlines,
briefings and visual aids in various languages for distribution to journalists,
military attaches and the public in general.
2. Publishing and distributing background papers and
material about the IDF to members of the press, the general public,
reservists and foreign and Israeli military attaches.
3. Maintaining direct, on-going contact with government
agencies, IDF information sources and public agencies.
4. Coordinating and cooperating with foreign military
public affairs agencies on matters of mutual interest.
5. Maintaining data and statistics on IDF activities.
6. Organizing and conducting think tanks for advising
the IDF Spokesperson's Unit on media policy and strategy.
7. Monitoring coverage on the IDF for evaluation of
the effectively of the Unit's operations.
8. Producing a daily summary of Israels newspapers
coverage of the IDF.
9. Maintaining the IDF Internet site.
Initiatives and Planning
This branch promotes proactive media policies. As
such, it is responsible for the following:
1. Determining subjects that present the IDF in a
favorable and positive light and which will be of interest to the public.
2. Presenting aspects of the IDF that show it as a
strong, positive and professional military force prepared for both peace
3. Highlighting the unique relationship between the
IDF and the people of Israel, and its role as an integrating force in
4. The branch also analyzes trends in the media.
Organization and Training
The Organization and Training branch of the Spokesperson's
Unit is responsible for the following activities:
1. Organization of all matters pertaining to personnel,
management, budget and supply.
2. Maintenance of emergency storehouses for emergency
3. Training and call-up of reservists in emergencies
4. Running courses for reserve press officers, including
periodic briefings and updates.
The Think Tank is a special group within the IDF Spokesperson's
Unit which consists of reserve communications specialists who meet periodically
to help the IDF Spokesperson assess the media picture and formulate
short- and long-term policies. In time of emergency, members of the
Think Tank operate around the clock. They are assisted by military specialists
and are advised by representatives of government ministries.
Special Wartime Responsibilities
In times of war, the IDF Spokesperson's Unit plays
an essential role for both military personnel and the civilian population
in general. The rapid release of factual information about the war is
the most effective way to combat the formation of rumors encouraged
by enemy propaganda and to raise civilian and military morale.
Israeli policy in time of war is to provide the media
with accurate and up-to-date information. Consequently, the IDF Spokesperson's
Unit concentrates on providing this information and enabling journalists
to cover war events, subject to security regulations.
During wartime, the Spokesperson's Unit expands, making
use of its reserve specialists to run a number of essential activities.
These activities may be summarized as follows:
1. All developments in the field, as well as the media
picture, are closely monitored in a Situation Room.
2. An Information Forum, which meets twice daily,
determines and ascertains IDF activities and policies in coordination
with other governmental and military bodies.
3. The Think Tank helps formulate Unit policy.
4. The Press Liaison, Foreign Press and Public Relations
branches of the Unit regroup into larger, mission-oriented centers.
5. The Electronic Media Center, which is a single
management source for the electronic media, provides information and
guidance to radio and TV, to assist them in covering the war.
6. The Press Center (Joint Information Bureau) consists
of two fully-equipped locations for foreign and local press respectively.
Press conferences, press releases and briefings, announcements, background
material, films and photographs are distributed to journalists around
the clock. In addition, direct communication lines to abroad are maintained,
and arrangements are made to escort newsmen to the front.
7. Should conditions warrant, additional press centers
(sub-JIBs) are set up in strategic locations in the field, near troop
8. Press liaison teams complete news coverage in the
field, document events, forward news and accommodate journalists who
arrive on site.
9. Operation in close cooperation with the Homefront
Command (Civil Defense) to coordinate the release of essential
emergency information and instructions to the Israeli public.
Sources: Israel Defense Forces