Aharon (Ahrale) Barnea: A Prominent Israeli Journalist and Television Personality

Aharon (Ahrale) Barnea, born on July 9, 1944, is an Israeli journalist and television personality who has made significant contributions to Israeli media in the 21st century. He has been a prominent figure in both news broadcasting and the Knesset channel.

Early Life

Born as Aharon Zilbershitz in Haifa, Barnea is the nephew of the well-known Israeli actors Shmulik Segal and Yossi Segal. His maternal grandfather was Rabbi Chaim Moshe Zilbershitz (1869-1954), who served as the head of the "Ohrach Lechaim" yeshiva in Zlotchov and authored a series of books on the Mishnah called "Mishna Berura" and the book "Chemedat Yisrael" about the virtues of the people of Israel.

Barnea attended the Real School in his hometown of Migdal HaEmek and was a member of the Scouts' "Meshotetey BaCarmel" youth movement. He served in the Intelligence Corps of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) during his mandatory military service and later in a reserve unit. Among his roles, he served as an agent operator and a POW researcher in Unit 504. He also took part in Operation Karama, where he broadcast messages in Arabic to the Palestinian insurgents, urging them to surrender. After his release from the IDF, Barnea studied Arabic dialects spoken by Gaza residents and earned a doctorate from Tel Aviv University in Arabic literature. Simultaneously, he worked as a reader for additional income.

Journalism Career

In the early 1980s, Barnea began his career as an emissary for the Israeli embassy in Cairo, Egypt, during the peace talks between Israel and Egypt. However, he returned to Israel shortly after, focusing on reporting for Kol Yisrael (Voice of Israel) radio station.

In 1986, Barnea, along with his then-wife Amalya Argaman-Barnea, co-authored the highly regarded book "Lelchet Shiv'i" ("To Go Captive"), which documented his meetings with senior members of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), including Salah Khalaf (Abu Iyad) and the queen of Jordan, Queen Dina, Hussein of Jordan's ex-wife. The book also explored the strong friendships that developed between the couples. The book claimed that Tawfiq Tirawi, who later became the head of Palestinian General Intelligence in the West Bank, never took part in actual combat or terror activities, despite leading a unit during Operation Karama.

In November 2014, Barnea was awarded the "Mifal Haim" (Deeds Prize) by the Journalists' Association.

In January 2015, he began hosting the program "Mikhutz LeZman" ("Out of Time") on the Knesset channel, featuring personal interviews with various Israeli personalities. Later, he started another interview-based program called "Hayu Yamim" ("There Were Days") on the same channel.

Notable Moments

One of the most memorable moments in Barnea's career was when he delivered the news of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin's assassination. On that evening, Barnea was not scheduled to be on duty at Malchei Yisrael Square, where the peace rally was held, but he agreed to anchor the broadcast upon understanding the significance of the event. He received an urgent message stating, "Dov Gil-Har reports rumors of shots fired in the square, and that Rabin was injured." Initially, Barnea thought it was a joke but soon received another message about a special news bulletin confirming Yitzhak Rabin's assassination. Barnea rushed to Ichilov Hospital and reported on Rabin's condition throughout the evening. He famously remarked to the program director, Yaakov Ilan, "For many years, I've worked in this profession, Yaakov, and I never imagined I would be the one to inform you about this."

Personal Life

Barnea has been married three times. His first wife was Daniela Shindel, and his second wife was Amalya Argaman-Barnea, to whom he was married for 20 years. In 2013, he married for the third time to Dr. Ofra "Ofi" Porat-Soldin-Barnea, an Israeli-American researcher and physician. Sadly, Dr. Ofra Porat-Soldin-Barnea passed away from cancer less than a year after their marriage, in February 2014.

Barnea has five children from four different women: a son from his first wife Daniela, a daughter and a son from his marriage to Amalya Argaman-Barnea (Ruti and Or), another daughter from a relationship while married to Amalya Argaman-Barnea, and a son from a relationship with Orna Benai. His current partner is Rachel Edtov.

Today, Aharon Barnea is a member of the morning news panel hosted by Niv Reshef on Channel 12.

Aharon Barnea has had a dynamic and influential career in Israeli journalism, contributing to the country's media landscape for decades. His coverage of significant events and his extensive interviewing experience have made him a respected figure in Israeli media.

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