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Israel Cabinet Ministries: Ministry of Defense

Haqirya, 61909 Tel Aviv
Tel. (03) 6975144

Website: (Hebrew)

Functions and Structure

The defense system rests on three organizational pillars:

Political: The Minister of Defense heads and operates the defense system. The minister is aided by assistants, advisors, and a staff directly subordinate to him. These units are responsible for coordination of operations in Judea-Samaria and the Gaza District, the emergency economic system, internal auditing of the defense system, Youth and Nahal, soldiers' ombudsman, rural settlement affairs, and infrastructure, inter alia.

Military: The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) are responsible for safeguarding Israel's existence, security, and sovereign rights.

Civilian: Civilian agencies include the Ministry of Defense (MoD), embracing all MoD agencies and divisions, overseas missions and offices, and Ministry-affiliated units and corporations. The affiliates are Israel Military Industries (IMI), presently being invested with corporate status, and the Armament Development Authority (Rafael). The corporations - State-owned enterprises under Ministry responsibility - include Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI), Shekem, Beit Shemesh Engines (BSE) and Gappim-Israel Orthopedic Enterprises (rehabilitation and prosthetics). The major goals of the civilian defense system are to develop and prepare infrastructure and resources for implementing IDF objectives; to design and implement procurement, manufacture, development, construction, and service arrangements in order to give the IDF the means it needs to do its job; to rehabilitate disabled veterans and members of bereaved families; to develop and administer the defense export system; to administer, plan, and control the defense budget; and to handle all civilian aspects of the defense system.

Staff Units Connected with the Political Echelon

The Coordinator of Operations in the Territories is responsible for implementing MoD policy in Judea-Samaria and Gaza District and handles all aspects of Civil Administration affairs in the territories. Civilian operations in the territories are carried out by various government ministries, each in its area of competence and responsibility. The Coordinator's office serves as a headquarters in charge of all related civilian aspects.

The Coordinator of Operations in Lebanon is responsible for assisting the political and military decision-makers on Israeli policy in Lebanon, and coordinating Israeli activities in Lebanon, with special emphasis on the security zone.

The National Emergency Board (NEB) issues plans and guidelines for operating the country's civilian economy in emergency situations, as determined by an NEB interministerial committee chaired by the Minister of Defense. The Minister appoints a permanent deputy to chair the Committee; this official is also in charge of NEB National Headquarters (the NEB Office, an MoD agency). Staff and committee work for emergency preparations is done at the National NEB Headquarters.

The Defense System Comptroller inspects, audits, and advises the defense system, updating the Minister, the Director-General, and the IDF Chief of General Staff on the general condition, capabilities, and preparedness of the Ministry, and the reasonableness and legality of actions taken by the military and civilian defense systems. The agencies audited include offices in charge of economic, administrative, organizational, and operational matters within the IDF and the Ministry, civilian defense-system offices, and other entities that the Ministry supports or in whose management it participates.

The IDF Soldiers' Complaints Commissioner (ombudsman) is appointed by the Minister of Defense in consultation with the Minister of Justice and with the approval of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. The Commissioner, empowered by the Military Jurisprudence Law, is in charge of operations of the Complaints Commission, within the organizational framework of the MoD. The Commissioner wields the powers of the chairman of a commission of inquiry, as the law prescribes.

The Youth and Naal Division coordinates all defense-system activities pertaining to youth and the Nahal Corps ("Pioneering-Fighting Youth"), including liaison with rural settlement movements, youth movements and groups, and other civilian bodies, in coordination with the IDF General Staff, Nahal Command, and Gadna (Premilitary Youth) Command.

The MoD Civilian Apparatus

Several major staff agencies assist the Ministry Director-General in planning, directing, and evaluating the activities of the specific-activity divisions and helping them discharge their duties. The major staff agencies include the Bureau of the Director-General; the Deputy Director-General for Organization and Administration; the Deputy Director-General for International Security Assistance; the legal advisor to the defense system; the economic advisor to the defense system; Foreign Affairs; the Organization, Control, and Data Department; the Human Resources Division; and the Administration and Property Department.

Below are the nine agencies through which MoD carries out its major functions:

  • The Procurement and Production Directorate (PPD) handles procurement and oversees the manufacture of systems and products, maintenance services for the military and civilian defense systems, and ministry agencies' overseas procurement activities. The PPD also oversees the development of the country's military-industrial infrastructure, thus facilitating more extensive and intensive local production and reducing defense imports. The PPD operates with the defense system's future needs and the country's industrial-technological potential in mind. The PPD also administers the maritime and air transport of equipment and goods acquired abroad for MoD and other government ministries, as well as equipment and goods exported from Israel.

    The PPD is composed of five executive and several staff units. Four executive units, organized as divisions, deal with procurement. Each of these (Air, Land, Maintenance, and Sea) coordinates its operations with a corresponding logistical center in one of the IDF branches, two or three specific-area systems, and one or two branches located in IDF logistical centers, in charge of rapid procurement entailing small-scale expenditure. The "office" or unit is the basic entity that performs most procurement coordination work, specializing in procurement areas according to types of equipment and technologies. Each such unit has a corresponding procurement agency in one of the IDF logistical units, and several such units are organized within a divisional framework. The fifth division - Overseas Handling and Transport - arranges the handling and shipping of import and export cargoes of the defense system and other government ministries, draws up contracts and agreements for the purchase of air and maritime shipping and handling services, and is responsible for paying import taxes (customs).

  • Directorate of Defense R&D
    Major functions: sponsoring and enhancing the infrastructure of advanced scientific and technological know-how, facilitating the development and enhancement of high-impact war materiel and auxiliary combat equipment; sponsoring and implementing advanced R&D for the creation of technological opportunities as a basis for the future development of war matriel and auxiliary combat equipment; commissioning, monitoring, conducting, and supervising defense R&D, including follow-up and control of project performance; and maintaining and fostering relations with academic R&D institutions in Israel and with similar entities in friendly countries. The directorate, jointly run by the MoD and the IDF, is composed of specialized professional offices and major staff units.
  • Building Division
    Major function: construction and maintenance work for the IDF and the civilian defense system, through contractors. The division has five district offices (North, Center, South, Negev, and Eilat), each responsible for contracting with private firms for construction and maintenance jobs in its area. The district office manages the job, finalizes contracts, monitors and reports on job progress, handles modifications and supplements, computes accounts, and transfers the completed job or building to the commissioning agency. The division's major staff headquarters offices are Computations and Contracts, responsible for contracting, computing job costs, performing measurements, and issuing work orders; Engineering and Planning, responsible for coordinating engineering planning for civilian defense agencies and R&D in the areas of construction, building standards, quality control, environmental quality, and training; and Planning and Consultancy Contracts, responsible for contracts and cost computations pertaining to planners and consultants. The division director is assisted by a committee that appoints planners for military and civilian defense jobs, and discharges various staff functions: coordination of construction activity using foreign-aid funds; assistance, coordination and control; economic consultancy; computerization; administration; reporting; and training.
  • Defense Sales Administration (Sibet).
    Major functions: promotion of defense exports in accordance with defense-system policy (chiefly by coordinating staff work and handling defense system export marketing efforts by means of general promotion, assistance to exporters and manufacturers, promotion of sales of army surplus [chiefly weapons systems and ordnance], managing and monitoring defense export transactions, etc.), and defense export regulation by issuing permits and licenses as prescribed by law and Ministry instructions. Sibet is organizationally composed of three centers: a marketing center based on geographically divided subunits, a center for the promotion and sale of army surplus based on specialized units, and an export services center with subunits classified by their professional disciplines.
  • Sales Division.
    Functions: The sale of surplus equipment belonging to the IDF, civilian defense agencies, government ministries, and State-owned enterprises; and management of the warehousing system in which IDF surplus equipment is kept. The division comprises two systems: Contracting and Storage.
  • Rehabilitation Division.
    Major functions: restoring the social functioning of disabled veterans and bereaved families by means of monetary and other services - medical (for the disabled) and social, vocational training, general education, job placement, prevention of job dismissal, assistance in the establishment and consolidation of independent businesses, and mental health; commemorating IDF dead; and helping ex-servicemen re-integrate into civilian life. The division has district or regional bureaus in seven towns, backed by various staff headquarters units. Each bureau is responsible for providing most services to eligibles in its geographic area. HQ functions include organization and administration, computerization, legal counsel, research and planning, and internal audit. Several HQ units serve eligibles: Legal Claims, Benefits (including medical committees), Medical Services, Rehabilitation Services (also coordinating the work of volunteers), Employment, Medical Vehicles, Commemoration, Ex-servicemen's Advisory Service, and Ombudsman.
  • Administration and Property Department.
    Major functions: coordinating the procurement of general services for the IDF, civilian defense agencies, and Ministry divisions; and administering defense system real estate. The department discharges functions of administration and supply, property and services, communications, transport, insurance, and legal claims. Apart from units devoted to administrative services, economics, budgets, emergencies, computerization, energy systems, Division auditing, and assistant to the Department director for special duties, the department comprises five major departments and subagencies.
    • The Properties and Supplies Division manages the defense system's real estate and properties (purchase, allocation, sale, expropriation, renting and letting, reclaiming and evictions), handles housing inspection and upkeep, and provides utilities (water, electricity, cleaning services, etc.) in IDF camps and facilities, and contracts for services in the fields of education, leisure, instruction, surveys, and consultancy for the IDF and the Ministry. The Division handles the procurement, storage, inventory management, and allocation of housing units; equips and furnishes offices, provides housing and maintenance services for Ministry facilities, and attends to food and hospitality services for Ministry agencies.
    • The Internal Transportation Office provides military and civilian defense agencies with transport services including trucks, buses, taxis, light aircraft, and small craft; the Office also manages the Ministry vehicle fleet.
    • The Communications and Mobile Systems Procurement Office provides Ministry agencies with communications and postal services and contracts with Bezeq (the telephone and telecommunications company) for development, installation, and maintenance jobs for the IDF and the defense system.
    • The Insurance and Litigation Office handles suits filed by or against the defense system, the system's insurance needs, employee claims for compensation following work accidents, and management of an internal insurance fund to cover transport damage.
    • The Budgets Division plans, manages, and controls the defense budget. Of its four subdivisions, three correspond to IDF branches and civilian defense agencies; the fourth serves as the Division's central staff HQ unit for planning and budgeting methods. The director of the Budgets Division also serves as financial advisor to the Chief of General Staff. The Budgets Division and the Office of the Financial Advisor to the CoGS are shared by the Ministry and the IDF.
  • Finance Department.
    Major functions: financing defense system activities in foreign exchange and local currency; paying bills in Israel and overseas within the framework of the defense budget; controlling budget implementation; collecting receivables; helping set the financial terms of defense system transactions; handling credit and other arrangements with domestic and foreign banks and institutions; examining, approving, and signing all defense-system contracts; ensuring that the agencies' financial and accounting activities comply with the law and sound practice; keeping the defense system's books of account and producing a consolidated balance sheet; designing and determining accounting, auditing, and control methods; paying Ministry salaries and the benefits of disabled veterans and bereaved families; arranging affairs pertaining to the overseas travel and stay of civilian and IDF employees, including wages and expense accounts; representing the Ministry in matters of finance; bookkeeping, and budget implementation vis-a-vis the Ministry of Finance, other ministries, and various institutions; and professional guidance for staff in matters of defense-system finance and bookkeeping.

    Organizationally, the department is composed of five major executive agencies and staff and auxiliary units. The major executive offices are the Accounting, Procurements Administration, and Development Division; the Accounting, Construction, and Services Division; the Unit Accounts and Service Conditions Office; the Procurement and Production and Development Accounts Office; and the Accounting and Balance Sheet Office. Staff HQ units include the Deputy Department Director (procedures, computerization, information, and computer accounting), Economics, Budget Control, Audit, Special Duties, and Administrative Services.

Eight major HQ units help the Ministry Director-General plan, guide, and monitor the activities of the specific-function divisions:

  • The Deputy Director-General for Administration is responsible for coordinating Ministry staff work concerning the administration and budgets of overseas missions, delegations, and attaches; computer and electronic data processing budgets in Israel and overseas; service decorations and citations; coordination of defense-system liaison with the State Comptroller; advising the National Emergency Board (NEB); and coordinating the activities of the Human Resources Department (excluding matters of labor relations, wage conditions, and job placement). The Deputy Director-General is also the director of the Organization, Control, and Data Department (OCD).
  • The Deputy Director-General for International Security Assistance is responsible for defense-system sales in Israel and overseas, defense exports, foreign relations, and defense-system security.
  • Organization, Control, and Data Department (OCD).
    Major functions: organizational development of the Ministry; development and consolidation of administrative doctrine, administrative systems, and major processes in Ministry work; development, implementation, and upkeep of computer systems for information, administration, and control; and coordinating Ministry manpower levels and standards. The OCD is composed of the data processing center (Malan), a major Ministry tool in the development, installation, and routine operation of computer systems, the central Ministry database, and the computer systems of major Ministry activities; the Management and Organization Systems Unit, devoted to systems analysis in the areas of management, organization, and public administration, development and improvement of work processes and methods, development and implementation of quantitative indices for the analysis of activity trends, and all aspects of preparation, processing, coordination, and dissemination of Ministry instructions; the Standards and Production Engineering Unit, which sets manpower limits and standards, determines organizational structure (including job definitions, job descriptions, and organizational changes), and decides on matters of production engineering (load measurement, time studies, and incentive pay); and a control office that develops processes and profiles the auditing mechanisms of the Ministry's consolidated management system. National Emergency Board (NEB) Headquarters formulates emergency policy for all OCD units and monitors their efforts to gear up for emergencies. The Department also has units that provide technical services for equipment and computers, and a special office for service decorations and citations.
  • The Human Resources Department formulates and implements Ministry human-resource and manpower policies; coordinates defense system labor relations, salary conditions (including for civilians employed by the IDF), service conditions of employees sent overseas for work or training, and represents the Ministry in these matters vis-a-vis outside agencies; handles manpower management for the Ministry (recruitment, acceptance, placement, promotion, retirement, welfare, and culture) in Ministry agencies, including women soldiers and reservists; and plans and implements instructional activities for Ministry employees. Organizationally, the Division is based on four major units: Manpower and Instruction, Employment of IDF Civilians, Terms of Service Abroad, and Labor Relations in Ministry-Affiliated Agencies.
  • The Defense System Legal Advisor provides legal counsel in all areas of activity of the Ministry, affiliated agencies, and other agencies for which the Minister of Defense is responsible. The Legal Advisor heads the civilian legal apparatus of the defense system. The major functions of the office are to provide legal counsel for the Minister of Defense, the Director-General, Ministry divisions and offices, auxiliary agencies, and agencies subordinate to the Ministry; legal representation of the Ministry vis-a-vis government ministries, committees, and tribunals; handling of primary and secondary legislation in the Ministry's areas of activity; participation in negotiations on complex projects, representing the Ministry's position and securing the Ministry's interests; drafting contracts and other legal documents; counselling or participating in committees of investigation, inquiry, and competitive bidding, in accordance with Ministry instructions; handling legal claims, including arbitration and cases brought before the High Court of Justice in which the Ministry is involved as a plaintiff, defendant, or third party; and coordinating court appearances with the State Attorney's Office and its representatives.
  • The Defense System Economic Advisor provides economic counsel for Ministry executives and defense system agencies, including affiliated units; analysis of defense budget impact on the national economy and industry; monitoring of domestic and overseas inflation and forecasting of the impact of price developments on defense expenditure; multi-year economic assessments in the form of background papers for long-term procurement programs; formulation and updating of the economic and administrative aspects of acquisition policy; determination of rate and price scales; generation and subsequent implementation of cost computations and economic assessments for large projects; analysis of the economic and industrial aspects of major domestic projects; cost-benefit studies (siting of facilities, using Ministry-owned resources rather than renting, etc.); basic research on the contribution of defense R&D; and comprehensive research on the defense-system wage structure and its development.
  • The Foreign Relations Office coordinates the planning, coordination, and guidance of Defense Ministry foreign relations for all defense establishment agencies. Major functions: gathering, analyzing, and processing information for decision-making in matters of foreign relations; preparing policy recommendations; representing the Ministry vis-a-vis outside agencies and forums in political/defense matters pertaining to foreign relations; responsibility for the political aspects of Ministry operations overseas; approving visits from overseas by defense-establishment invitees, and responsibility for VIP visits, in conjunction with the Ministry's staff units; and instructing Ministry agencies in Israel and overseas missions and delegations in matters of the Ministry's foreign relations.
  • The Information and Public Inquiries Office is the central address for civilians who wish to explore problems pertaining to the defense system. The Office resolves problems and strengthens trust and understanding between civilian (private and public) and defense system agencies by investigating complaints or handling inquiries and providing answers, instructions, or advice.

The following four agencies report to the Ministry Director-General:

  • The MoD Publishing House produces, markets, and distributes books, pamphlets, journals, and government publications, and provides publishing services for all defense-establishment agencies.
  • The IDF Museums Office administers a network of museums that bear witness to Israel's military prowess, document its wars for survival, and commemorate the battle heritage of the IDF and the forces preceding it. The Office establishes and expands the museums and constantly gathers museum material. The Office is composed of a central administration and the following museums: the Eliyahu Golomb Haganah Museum in Tel Aviv, the Amihai Palgin IZL ("Irgun") Museum in Tel Aviv, the Yair Stern Lehi ("Stern Group") Museum in Tel Aviv, an archival repository in Tel Aviv, the Hebrew Battalions House in Moshav Avihayyil, the Ha'apala (Clandestine Immigration) and Navy Museum on the outskirts of Haifa, and the Hashomer Museum in Kefar Gil'adi.
  • The Documentation and Research Office gathers and analyzes historically valuable documentation within the civilian defense system, performs and prepares material for historical research, conducts surveys, and instructs civilian defense-system agencies in the collection of historically valuable material.
  • The IDF and Defense Establishment Archives are the historical archives of the military and civilian defense system; its holdings are considered to be part of the State Archives. The Archives are also the IDF's central records library.

MoD-Affiliated Agencies and Corporations

  • Israel Military Industries (IMI), an industrial/administrative conglomerate, is a Ministry-affiliated agency presently being converted into a State-owned enterprise. The IMI is the major manufacturer and supplier of weapons and ordnance for the IDF and the defense system. It employs thousands of workers in dozens of plants and operational units around the country, some in development areas. The IMI manufactures some of the world's most advanced weapons, ordnance, tactical systems, engines, and armaments. Primary objectives: the manufacture and R&D of weapons, ordnance, weapons systems, and equipment for the defense system, and the maintenance of production capacity for the rapid replenishing of IDF stores during and after war. Secondary objectives: the manufacture and development of weapons, ordnance, and weapons systems for export, activity in the civilian metallurgical and chemicals industries, and operations in areas and places that do most to further the country's development.

    Structure and Organization: IMI embraces nine specialty-based production sectors, each with several plants, in addition to staff divisions serving the entire system.

  • Rafael (Armaments Development Authority), an MoD affiliate and an autonomous economic entity, is Israel's largest firm engaging in R&D for the armaments and sophisticated combat platforms required by the IDF. Rafael develops some of the world's most advanced armaments and technologies, adapting them to the conditions of the Middle East; researches and tests combat weapons systems and helps the IDF identify and define its weapons-system needs; and provides quick solutions as required by the IDF or for pressing operational needs. Most Rafael manufacturing activity is composed of final assembly, testing, simulation, and engineering troubleshooting, thus putting accumulated know-how and experience to good use and ensuring a smooth and rapid transition from development to production. Manufacture of basic subsystems and components is contracted out to civilian industries. Rafael's well-known products include the Shafrir air-to-air missile, the Piton, the David artillery computer, tank-crew protection gear, and night-vision equipment. Of Rafael's employees, one-third are university trained, 50% are technicians and practical engineers, and the rest are administrative workers.

The following companies come under ministerial responsibility of the Minister of Defense:

  • Israel Aircraft Industries, Ltd. (IAI) engages in manufacture for defense system needs, manufacture for export, and construction of long-term infrastructure for domestic and export defense needs. Since 1968 the IAI has been a limited-liability State-owned enterprise, with the Ministries of Defense, Finance, Transportation, and Industry and Trade represented on its board. The IAI comprises four divisions. The Aircraft Upkeep Division has four industrial plants: Shaham (overhaul and upgrade of aircraft), Masham (engine overhaul), Matam (aircraft maintenance), and Mashab (accessories overhaul). The Electronics Division has four plants: Mabat (space systems and technologies), Tamam (precision instruments), Malam (integrated systems engineering), and Elta Electronics Industries, Ltd. (a subsidiary). The Aircraft Division has six plants: Teshen (engineering and infrastructure development), Lahav (assembly and upgrade of combat aircraft), Kabam (manufacture and assembly of combat aircraft), Malkam (aeronautics manufacture and contracting), Mattan (civilian aircraft), Malat (pilotless aircraft). The Technologies Division has four plants: Ramta (components and systems) in Beersheba, Shahal (hydraulic servo systems) in Lod, Matta (civilian aircraft), and Golan Industries (seats for executive aircraft).
  • Beit Shemesh Engines, Ltd. (BSE), co-owned by the American Pratt and Whitney company, manufactures jet engines, parts, motors, and industrial turbines. Its headquarters and main plant, located in the Beit Shemesh industrial zone, include administrative units and manufacturing, quality control, engineering, marketing, and finance subdivisions.
  • Shekem, Ltd., a State-owned enterprise administered by the defense system, targets its operations at IDF soldiers, their families, and other security personnel and their families. For civilians, Shekem offers a selection of goods and services at reduced prices and convenient credit terms. In the IDF, Shekem operates regular and mobile canteens, snackbars, cafeterias, and sales outlets.
  • Gappim-Israel Orthopedic Enterprises, Ltd., is a State-owned enterprise; the Ministries of Defense, Finance, and Health, and other public health agencies are represented on its board. Established 42 years ago to provide disabled veterans with prosthetic devices, Gappim coordinates its activities with the MoD Rehabilitation Department. Gappim headquarters are in Tel Hashomer, near the rehabilitation department of Sheba Hospital, and branches operate in conjunction with hospitals in Jerusalem, Haifa, Beersheba, Ra'anana, Tzerifin, and Ashqelon. Gappim prostheses are the most modern and advanced available, including hydraulic prostheses for leg amputees and electric prostheses for the armless. The vast know-how and superb performance of the company's employees have given Gappim a reputation that attracts clients from all over the world. In 1974, Gappim was awarded the Kaplan Prize for its alacrity in the care of amputees from the Yom Kippur War. The company has a special inventory of parts for emergency and a staff trained to meet emergency demands.
  • The Soldiers' Welfare Association is a volunteer agency that substantiates the nation's affection for its soldiers by mitigating IDF service conditions and keeping the front lines in contact with home. The Association is active in four areas: welfare services, education facilities, soldiers' hostels, and operation of resort villages.

    Soldiers' Welfare Services at the Front and on Post: The Association, following an annual plan coordinated with the IDF General Staff, provides soldiers and formations with leisure accessories such as television sets, transistor radios, books, and sports equipment. Each year the Association furnishes and equips dozens of lounges in bases and camps and dispatches holiday gift parcels for soldiers. Soldiers without relatives in Israel receive additional gift parcels twice a year. The Association builds and maintains 160 soldiers' hitchhiking stations, runs snackbars alongside the stations, and tends to the needs of soldiers in hospitals around the country.

    Establishing and Operating Education Facilities: The Association makes all of its facilities available to the IDF's education activity, mainly for the advancement of soldiers lacking elementary education. For this purpose the Association sponsors two academies, one in Natanya on the Mediterranean coast, and the other at Har Gilo outside Jerusalem. Establishing and Operating Hostels for servicemen and women on leave or in transit. Hostels in the major cities are well-appointed, with beds, restaurants, lounges, auditoriums, libraries, music and reading rooms, canteens, and in one case (Jerusalem), a heated swimming pool. The Association's hostels around the country have a total of 400 beds. Association facilities serve as convenient venues for career and conscript soldiers' celebrations and family events.

    Resort villages: The Association has also established four resort villages along the Mediterranean coast with a total accommodation capacity of 2,100. All public voluntary organizations in Israel are represented on the Association's board, and the operations of its four regions and 74 branch offices are audited by the State Comptroller, the defense-system administrative inspectorate, and internal auditors. The Association derives its income from an annual lottery; collection of waste paper for recycling; the soldiers' gift parcel solicitation; contributions by individuals, institutions, and companies; events such as auctions, bazaars, performances, and concerts; and donations by overseas Friends.

Sources: Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs