Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Thursday nominated Col. Doron Ben-Barak to serve as the country’s next military censor.
Ben-Barak, who currently serves as the deputy military advocate-general, will replace Col. (res.) Eyal Samuelov, who has served in the position in an interim capacity since the previous military censor, Brig. Gen. Ariela Ben-Avraham, left the post in February.
Israel is something of a rarity among democratic countries in its use of a military censor to prevent publication of classified material. Under Israeli law, all news articles — in both traditional media and social media — dealing with national security and related issues must be approved by the censor before publication.
Ben-Barak, 47, has served in a variety of military positions over the past 25 years, most of them related to military law.
Ben-Barak served as the chief legal adviser to the IDF Home Front Command, legal adviser to the West Bank division, and chief prosecutor in the IDF Central Command and Israeli Air Force.
He has a law degree from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and is a graduate of the IDF’s National Security College.
Ben-Barak will be promoted to the rank of brigadier general before entering the position of military censor.
The military censor, part of the IDF Military Intelligence Directorate, has the authority to prevent information from being published by anyone except for politicians, who have in the past used this ability to disseminate otherwise gagged information.
Over the decades, the censor has faced allegations that it has been used politically and to prevent embarrassing the military and government, rather than to prevent direct harm to national security. In the current age when information can be easily published by anyone on the internet, the censor has been accused of being an outdated tool to prevent the spread of classified or sensitive information.
Israeli media outlets often skirt the censor by quoting foreign reports, rather than Israeli sources. However, even this practice does not work in all cases, as the censor can and has barred even these foreign reports, including in cases where the information was readily available online.