Orna Barbivai


Orna Barbivai (Hebrew: אוֹרְנָה בַּרְבִּיבַאי; born 5 September 1962) is the current Minister of Economy, a retired major general in the Israel Defense Forces, and the former head of its Manpower Directorate. She was the first woman to be made Major-general (Aluf), the IDF's second highest rank. On 1 January 2019, she announced that she would enter politics and seek a Knesset seat on the list of Yesh Atid,[2][3][4][5] which she won as part of the Blue and White slate. Her place in the Knesset was taken by Yasmin Fridman.

Orna Barbivay
Orna Barbivai.jpg
Ministerial roles
2021–Minister of Economy
Faction represented in the Knesset
2019–2020Blue and White
2020–2021Yesh Atid
Personal details
Born (1962-09-05) 5 September 1962 (age 59)
Ramla, Israel
Military service
Allegiance Israel
Branch/serviceFlag of the Israel Defense Forces.svg Israel Defense Forces
Years of service1981–2014
RankIDF aluf rotated.svg Aluf (Major general)
UnitManpower Directorate


Growing up in a family of eight children in Afula, Israel, Barbivai is the daughter of Tzila, a Jewish immigrant from Iraq, and Eli Shochetman, a Jewish immigrant from Romania. She was drafted into the IDF in 1981, and has spent her entire career as an officer in the Manpower Directorate.[3] Barbivai holds a bachelor's degree in Social Sciences and Humanities from Ben Gurion University, and a Master of Business Administration Degree from Haifa University. She is also the graduate of the "Turn-point" administration course for senior military officials.[1]

She is married to Moshe Barbivai, and they have three children. They live in Tel Aviv.

Military careerEdit

Barbivai was the first female to hold the IDF positions of Chief Adjutant Officer of a Command, Chief Adjutant Officer, Head of the Ground Forces' manpower section, and head of the Individuals' Sector in the Manpower Directorate.[1]

On 26 May 2011, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak approved her appointment as head of the IDF's Manpower Directorate, replacing Maj. Gen. Avi Zamir. The promotion of Barbivai, a mother of three, to the rank of Major General was praised by Israeli opposition leader Tzipi Livni, who said that "there is no rank that is too heavy for a woman's shoulders, and there is no doubt that Brig.-Gen. Barbivai was appointed because of her talents".[3]

On 23 June 2011, Barbivai received her Maj. Gen. ranks and the Manpower Directorate (AKA) command during an official ceremony at the Chief of Staff headquarters in Camp Rabin.[6] In October 2014, after 33 years of active military service, Barbivai retired from the IDF.

Political careerEdit

In January 2019, the general announced her intention to enter politics, and she later joined Yesh Atid, where she announced that she will run for a Knesset seat in the upcoming April 2019 Knesset election.[5] She is number ten on the Knesset list of candidates for the "Blue and White" party, the united slate of the Israel Resilience Party, Yesh Atid, and Telem.[7] On 30 March 2020 M.K. Barbivai criticized M.K. Gantz, "[your] entering a government under Netanyahu 'went against every promise you gave voters, against every promise you gave us, against the alternative [we offered] to the Israeli public that you broke up single-handedly'."[8]


  1. ^ a b c "ראש אגף כוח אדם - אלופה אורנה ברביבאי" [Head of Manpower Directorate - Maj. Gen. Orna Barbivai] (in Hebrew). IDF Spokesperson's Unit. 18 May 2011. Retrieved 14 August 2011.
  2. ^ Greenberg, Hanan (26 May 2011). "IDF names first female major general". Ynet.
  3. ^ a b c Katz, Yaakov (26 May 2011). "IDF makes history: First woman to be made major general". The Jerusalem Post.
  4. ^ "Brig. Gen. Orna Barbivay to be first woman major general in IDF" (Press release). Israel Defense Forces. 26 May 2011.
  5. ^ a b Harkov, Lahav (1 January 2019). "IDF's First Female General Will Join Yesh Atid". The Jerusalem Post.
  6. ^ Piotrkovsky, Shlomo (23 June 2011). "אורנה ברביבאי הועלתה לדרגת אלוף" [Orna Barbivai raised to Aluf rank]. Arutz Sheva (in Hebrew). Retrieved 14 August 2011.
  7. ^ T. O. I. staff; Wootliff, Raoul. "United Gantz-Lapid party to be called 'Blue and White'; no women in top 6". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 21 February 2019.
  8. ^ "Chairing his first full Knesset session, Gantz faces assaults from former allies". The Times of Israel. 31 March 2020.