Lior Lotan appointed next IDF spokesman

Appointment approved by Barak; to begin job when Ashkenazi steps down; served as exec.-dir. of Int'l Institute for Counter-Terrorism.

Incoming chief of General Staff Maj.-Gen. Yoav Galant announced on Tuesday that he had decided to appoint Col. (res.) Lior Lotan as the next IDF spokesman.
Lotan will be promoted to the rank of brigadier-general; the appointment was approved by Defense Minister Ehud Barak. He will replace current IDF Spokesman Brig.- Gen. Avi Benayahu next month, when current Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi steps down after four years in the post.
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Lotan enlisted in the IDF in 1983 and served in the elite General Staff Reconnaissance Unit – known by its Hebrew name, Sayeret Matkal. He received an IDF Medal of Valor for his participation in the 1994 attempt to rescue Nachshon Wachsman, a soldier kidnapped by Hamas. He was awarded the medal by Barak, who was then the IDF chief of staff. Lotan later served as commander of the IDF’s hostage negotiation unit and as head of the Military Intelligence unit responsible for locating missing IDF soldiers.
Lotan resigned from the IDF in 2005 and became executive director of the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism in Herzliya. Lotan has also served as a Homeland Security consultant overseas in recent years, along with former head of the IDF Operations Directorate Maj.-Gen. Israel Ziv and former Tel Aviv Police commander David Zur.
“Lotan’s main test as IDF spokesman will be whether he will serve as the personal spokesman for the chief of staff, or as the spokesman for the IDF with a wider national perspective,” one officer said on Wednesday.
Benayahu’s term as IDF spokesman is viewed positively on a domestic level, due to his success in turning Ashkenazi into the icon of a no-nonsense general who was so busy rehabilitating the IDF that he did not have time to give a single interview throughout his four years in office.
Overseas, however, the performance of the IDF Spokesman’s Office under Benayahu is seen as questionable – particularly in light of its handling of the media during Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip two years ago, and after the botched raid on the Mavi Marmara passenger ship last May. In both cases, the IDF failed to disseminate critical information to the press quickly to counter Hamas and Turkish claims.