Entering role, new IDF spokesman Daniel Hagari looks to bolster trust in military

Taking over from Brig. Gen. Ran Kochav, ex-navy commando vows to keep politics out of the Israel Defense Forces, build credibility with both local and international media

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent

Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari speaks at a ceremony at the IDF Spokesperson Unit headquarters in Tel Aviv, March 29, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)
Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari speaks at a ceremony at the IDF Spokesperson Unit headquarters in Tel Aviv, March 29, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)

A senior Israeli Navy officer, Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, took over as military spokesperson on Wednesday afternoon, replacing Brig. Gen. Ran Kochav.

The switch took place at the Israel Defense Forces Spokesperson’s Unit headquarters in north Tel Aviv, at a ceremony overseen by the head of IDF Operations Directorate, Maj. Gen. Oded Basiuk.

In their speeches, Kochav, Basiuk and Hagari touted the importance of truthfulness for military spokespeople, as well as noting the ongoing public controversy regarding the government’s plans to overhaul the judiciary.

“The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit’s mission is to strengthen the public’s trust in the IDF and its international legitimacy. When I think of the most important condition for gaining the public’s trust, only one word comes to mind: Credibility. Credibility means creating trust — internally and externally — in order for us to be an exemplary organization,” Hagari said.

“The IDF Spokesperson must be credible and relevant, not only to the Israeli media but also to the international media. We must report with credibility to the public and the world, especially regarding difficult events, only then will we continue to win the public’s trust,” he continued.

Ran Kochav (right) speaks next to incoming IDF spokesman Daniel Hagari (left) and head of IDF Operations, Oded Basiuk (center) at a ceremony at the IDF Spokesperson Unit headquarters in Tel Aviv, March 29, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)

Hagari enters the new role as the army has been shaken by protests against the government over the judicial shakeup, despite attempts to wall off the military from the divisive issue. Some reserve soldiers have vowed not to report for duty, sparking fears of mass insubordination, and some officials have expressed fears that changes to the judiciary could expose troops to future legal danger.

Hagari also vowed to “keep the IDF as a national consensus and keep politics out of the IDF.”

“This begins in the Spokesperson’s Unit and continues onwards to the entire IDF,” he added.

Kochav, who has served as the head of the IDF’s Spokesperson Unit for around two years, said “trust is the purpose of our work.”

Basiuk, whose Operations Directorate oversees the Spokesperson Unit, said the past week was “complex,” apparently referring to mass protests across Israel amid the judicial overhaul and the ousting of Defense Minister Yoav Gallant.

“But our enemy does not stop or wait. They continue to look for weak points and to act against us. We maintain vigilance. All should know, regardless of anything that happens here, the IDF is strong, determined, sharp, united, and will act anywhere, at any time, and in any way necessary. This is our mission and we are on guard,” Basiuk said.

Kochav will soon head to study abroad. His future in the IDF was not immediately known.

Hagari is the latest in a line of career military officers to command the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit, ending a previously common practice of naming civilians with a background in journalism or communications for the role.

Hagari, who is married and has four children, has served in the military since 1995, mostly in the Navy’s elite Shayetet 13 unit.

From 2012 to 2014, he served as then-chief of staff Benny Gantz’s office manager, and from 2016 to 2019, he served as an assistant to then-chief of staff Gadi Eisenkot, before returning to become the commander of Shayetet 13. Hagari’s most recent role was head of naval operations.

Hagari has a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and a master’s degree in diplomacy and defense, both from Tel Aviv University.

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