Confidant of IDF Chief of Staff Eisenkot Named as New Military Spokesman

Senior officers express surprise that Col. Ronen Manelis will be made brigadier general at such a comparatively young age (38).

Col. Ronen Manelis
Tomer Appelbaum

Col. Ronen Manelis, an aide to Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, will be the Israel Defense Forces’ next spokesperson, the army announced Tuesday.

Manelis, who will be promoted to brigadier general, is considered a confidant of Eisenkot. He was bureau chief when Eisenkot was GOC Northern Command and when he headed the Operations Division. Manelis was promoted to colonel when he became aide to the chief of staff.

Senior officers have expressed surprise at the speed with which Manelis was promoted to brigadier general, in light of his youth – he is 38 – and the fact he served only two years, in a single position, as colonel. Most IDF officers serve in three positions at the rank of colonel before being promoted, at an average age of 42-43.

Manelis will replace Brig. Gen. Moti Almoz, who was promoted to head the IDF’s Manpower Directorate last month (and has been doing both jobs since).

Manelis will be replaced as Eisenkot’s aide by a colonel who was head of Israel Navy’s Operations Directorate, but whose name cannot be published for security reasons.

While Manelis will formally become a brigadier general, his salary and other terms of employment will remain at the rank of colonel.

Manelis previously served as intelligence officer of the Samaria Territorial Brigade; as intelligence officer of the Gaza Division; as head of the Lebanon section of the Northern Command; and as the chief intelligence officer of the Depth Corps. He enlisted in the Intelligence Corps in 1997 and has remained in the army ever since.

Almoz, 50, was appointed IDF spokesman in 2013 after 28 years’ military service and two previous assignments at the rank of brigadier general.

As IDF spokesman, Almoz was criticized for his conduct with regard to Sgt. Elor Azaria, the soldier convicted of manslaughter in the death of Abdel Fattah al-Sharif in Hebron last March. Almoz was also criticized for describing protests of army actions by a number of rabbis as “whining.”

Petitions against his promotion to head the Manpower Directorate were rejected by the High Court of Justice.