Gantz taps Kobi Mandelblit to serve as next military censor

Colonel, who has served in senior intelligence roles, will replace Doron Ben-Barak, who served in the position since 2020

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

Col. Kobi Mandelblit, who was nominated to serve as the country's next military censor, on March 24, 2022. (Israel Defense Forces)
Col. Kobi Mandelblit, who was nominated to serve as the country's next military censor, on March 24, 2022. (Israel Defense Forces)

Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Thursday nominated Col. Kobi Mandelblit to serve as the next military censor.

Mandelblit, who currently serves as commander of the Intelligence Directorate’s training unit, will replace Col. Doron Ben-Barak, who has served in the position since 2020.

Israel is something of a rarity among democratic countries in its use of a military censor to prevent the 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.

Mandelblit, 43, has served in a variety of military positions over the past 24 years, most of them related to intelligence.

Mandelblit served as chief intelligence officer of the military’s Central Command, and head of a theater at the Intelligence Directorate’s research unit.

He has a degree in business administration and conflict resolution from Bar Ilan University in Ramat Gan. He is also the cousin of former attorney general Avichai Mandelblit.

Mandelblit 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 privilege to disseminate otherwise gagged information.

Over the decades, the censor unit 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age when information can be easily published by anyone on the internet, censorship has also been criticized as an outdated tool.

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.

Judah Ari Gross contributed to this report.

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