IDF Spokesman Who Tussled With Rabbis to Be Next Military Manpower Head

The next head of the Israel Defense Forces’ Manpower Directorate will be an outspoken officer who has criticized rabbis.

Moti Almoz.
Emil Salman

Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot and Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman decided Thursday to appoint Brig.Gen. Moti Almoz, the current IDF spokesman, to be the next head of the military’s Manpower Directorate. The army said he will take up his new office soon, though the date has yet to be fixed.

The current manpower head, Maj. Gen. Hagai Topolansky, resigned last week after a military computer was stolen from his home. Almoz was selected over Brig. Gen. Merav Kirshner, head of the directorate’s planning division.

Almoz came up through the ranks in the Combat Engineering Corps. He served as commander of the 605th engineering battalion, and was engineering commander for the Southern Command. He was Jordan Valley divisional commander in 2004 and oversaw the military raid on Jericho Prison to capture the murderers of former minister Rechavam Zeevi. He also held a number of positions in the Central Command before taking over the role of IDF spokesman in 2013.

Almoz was criticized for issuing a statement on the day that Elor Azaria was arrested for shooting a prone and disarmed terrorist to death, in which he stated that the incident was serious and did not reflect “the IDF culture and the culture of the Jewish people.” Nor, he said, did the incident represent the IDF’s values.

He was recently criticized by a number of rabbis after describing their protests against various army measures as “shouts,” in an interview with Army Radio. Some of his critics demanded that the chief of staff and the defense minister fire Almoz and announced that they would take the issue to the High Court.

One of the candidates to replace Almoz as IDF spokesman is the chief military censor, Col. Ariela Ben Avraham, who served extensively in the IDF Spokesman’s division. However, the army might prefer an officer with combat experience.