|2020||Minister of Communications|
|2021–||Minister of Communications|
|Faction represented in the Knesset|
|2019–2020||Blue and White|
|Born||22 May 1975|
Petah Tikva, Israel
Yoaz Hendel (Hebrew: יוּעַז הֶנְדֶּל; born 22 May 1975) is an Israeli politician, serving as the Minister of Communications since 2021, as well as previously from May to December 2020. He was originally elected as a member of the Blue and White alliance in 2019, before leaving to form Derekh Eretz in March 2020. A military historian by training, Hendel previously worked as a journalist, was the chairman of the Institute for Zionist Strategies (IZS), and taught academic courses at Bar-Ilan University. Between 2011 and 2012 he served as Director of Communications and Public Diplomacy for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Hendel was born to a father of Romanian-Jewish descent and a mother of Romanian and Polish-Jewish descent in Petah Tikva and grew up in the religious settlement of Elkana. At age 18 he joined the Israel Defense Forces, serving in the elite Shayetet 13 naval commando unit as a combat officer. Hendel was discharged from the IDF after six years of service, and remained active for several additional years in the Israeli security system and Prime Minister’s Office. During his time in the IDF, Hendel fought in the 2006 Lebanon War and the 2008/09 Gaza War (also known as Operation Cast Lead). He holds the rank of a Lieutenant Colonel in the Reserves where he serves each year.
Hendel studied history at Tel Aviv University where he achieved his PhD. His thesis was entitled Intelligence techniques in the Ancient World: From the Hasmonean Revolt to the Bar Kochba Revolt. He was a research fellow at the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University, and then at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar Ilan University. Over the years Hendel published several studies focusing on Israeli intelligence, the Second Lebanon War and guerrilla warfare tactics.
From 2009 to 2013 Hendel lectured on terrorism and guerrilla warfare at Bar-Ilan University's Political Science Department.
Over the years Hendel has written for numerous Israeli outlets. He had a weekly column at Yedioth Ahronoth, Israel's largest daily newspaper and was a military and analyst for the Makor Rishon weekly paper, as well as appearing as a guest columnist in the Maariv daily.
Hendel hosted a number of radio talk shows, including the weekly Retzu'at HaBitachon (Hebrew: רצועת הביטחון, or military strip) corner on Israel's Army Radio (also known as Galei Tzahal), and an afternoon show with his political counterpart, Nitzan Horowitz.
During 2015 Hendel co-hosted the Friday morning talk show on Israel's Channel 10 TV.
In 2010 Hendel, together with Zaki Shalom, a professor at Ben Gurion University, authored "Let the IDF Win": The Self-Fulfilling Slogan on the Al Aqsa Intifada and the struggle against terrorist organizations. The book won the first prize in the Moldovan Award for Original Military Literature in that year.
In 2011 Hendel published Daddy goes to reserve duty, a children's book about a girl whose father goes often to reserve service in the IDF. Hendel, a constant reserve serviceman, originally wrote the book for his children due to his absence from home while serving in the army.
In March 2012, Israel vs. Iran: War of Shadows, co-authored by Hendel with Jerusalem Post military correspondent Yaakov Katz, was published in Hebrew; the English translation was published a year later. The book evaluates the threat to Israel’s security posed by a nuclear Iran since the Second Lebanon War of 2006, and analyzes Israel’s military and diplomatic options as well as intelligence analysis, future military measures, the Israeli Air Force attack in Syria, Operation Cast Lead, technological advances, cyberspace battles, assassinations and warfare smuggling by sea. The authors argue that Israel's war against Lebanon in 2006 and Operation Cast Lead against the Gaza Strip in 2008/09 were surrogate wars against Iran.
In December 2015 Hendel published his fourth book "In an Unsown Land – an Israeli Journey", providing a first-person account of the tribal code in the Israeli society, and its political and security challenges. The book was described as a right-wing, modern version of Amos Oz’s "In the Land of Israel".
In September 2018 Hendel published a book titled Frank Conversations about Israeli Hope, in which he transcribed a series of one-on-one discussions he held with President Reuven Rivlin about the challenges facing Israel.
In May 2012 Hendel was appointed head of the Institute for Zionist Strategies (IZS). He remained in this position until his election to the Knesset in April 2019.
Hendel also served as an executive member of Hashomer Hachadash, which engages in the protection of agricultural lands, was a member of Beit Hillel Rabbis, Natal (Hebrew: נטל, the national organization for Trauma victims), and the board of governors of Bishvil Hamachar, as well as being active in other organizations.
In August 2011 Hendel was appointed Director of Communications and Public Diplomacy for Prime Minister Netanyahu and in early 2012 as a member of the negotiation team with the Palestinians in Jordan. He resigned from his post on 21 February 2012, after Netanyahu told him he had lost confidence in him for having informed the Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein of possible sexual harassment by the Prime Minister's bureau chief Natan Eshel. This information eventually led to an investigation by the Civil Service Commission and Eshel's resignation. Hendel and Cabinet Secretary Zvi Hauser, who was also reprimanded by Netanyahu for the same reason, told Netanyahu that they had not updated him in order to not implicate him in the affair.
In October 2012 the Movement for Quality Government in Israel awarded Hendel the title of "Knight of Quality Government 2012" in the Maintenance of Government Quality and Integrity Category for revealing the scandal. A year later he received the social prize of excellence by Ometz.
Hendel's name was mentioned as a potential candidate during the 2013 and 2015 national elections, but he denied the offers claiming that he “wanted to make a difference from the outside.”
In February 2019 he officially joined the Blue and White slate ahead of Israel's April 2019 parliamentary elections. In March 2020, Hendel and Zvi Hauser formed their own political faction, Derekh Eretz. In May 2020, he was appointed as Minister of Communications in the thirty-fifth government of Israel. On 9 December 2020, Hendel and Zvi Hauser announced that they will join Gideon Sa'ar's new party, New Hope. In December 2020 he was fired by Benny Gantz from his position as Minister of Communications due to Hendel's joining New Hope.
Hendel was placed fourth on New Hope's list for the 2021 elections. He retained his seat in the Knesset as New Hope won six seats.
In June 2021, Hendel became Minister of Communications in the thirty-sixth government of Israel. He resigned his Knesset seat under the Norwegian Law and was replaced by Zvi Hauser.
Hendel is a self-described liberal nationalist with a right-wing pragmatic approach. He is generally considered to be on the center-right of the Blue and White alliance.
In March 2013 the IZS, with Hendel as chairman, announced the establishment of a human rights organization called The Blue and White Human Rights Association. Hendel argues in his columns that the real right to the Land of Israel is accompanied by a moral debt. During the establishment conference, it was argued that Zionism is not a monopoly of the right, and human rights are not a monopoly of the left. The organization intends to operate at the crossings checkpoints where the IDF is present, to assist at points of friction, in schools to educate on the importance of purity of arms and with the help of a group of physicians, to provide free medical treatment regardless of religion, race or sex. Unlike other human rights organizations operating in the territories, the policy is not to provide information to the media about human rights violations, but to give the information to the army's authorized investigations. The human rights organization by Hendel deals with public relations on behalf of Israel, and presents the "efforts and the great moral advantage" of the Zionist movement.
At the 2013 Herzliya Conference, Hendel claimed that he supports maximum separation from the Palestinians, but does not see any possibility of fulfilling a peace agreement in this generation. Hendel suggested annexing the settlement bloc and Jordan Valley, giving citizenship to the Arabs living there and, in return, increasing the Palestinian Authority areas from A to B, to create a continuous Palestinian zone and upgrade their political status, calling his proposal "maximizing the Israeli consensus and minimizing the boundaries of dispute". In an interview to Sarah Haetzni-Cohen, Hendel said that there is no "ultimate solution to the dispute", and suggested a quasi-"limited Allon project".
In February 2020, Hendel said in an interview: "I believe Arab culture is the jungle. There you find gross violations of every human right that we recognize in the West. They haven't reached the stage of evolution in which there are human rights."
Hendel is married to Shiri, has four children, and lives in Nes Harim.