Ilanit Dayan-Orbach: Israeli Journalist, Broadcaster, and Investigator

Ilanit Dayan-Orbach: Israeli Journalist, Broadcaster, and Investigator -

Ilanit Dayan-Orbach, born on May 8, 1964, is an Israeli journalist, broadcaster, and investigative reporter holding a Doctor of Laws degree. Her notable journalistic work includes her role as the editor and host of the investigative program "Ovda" (Fact), a position she has held since 1993.


Dayan was born in Argentina to Vilma and Mordechai Dayan. At the age of 6, she immigrated to Israel with her family. The Dayan family settled in the Yad Eliyahu neighborhood of Tel Aviv, adjacent to her cousin, Dani Dayan. Ilanit's sister, Rachel, passed away due to illness a year after their immigration to Israel.

She attended the "Giborei Israel" elementary school and later, the "T" municipal high school in Tel Aviv. After completing her military service, Dayan pursued her legal studies at Tel Aviv University, earning her undergraduate degree with distinction. She then specialized in legal editing under Supreme Court Justice Dov Levin and later worked at the law firm S. Horowitz & Co.

Dayan continued her legal education in the United States at Yale University, where she completed her Juridical Science Doctorate (J.S.D.). She currently serves as a lecturer in the Faculty of Law at Tel Aviv University.

During her military service in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), Dayan served for two years in mandatory service and one year in regular service. Throughout her military service, she held various roles, including news producer, foreign news editor, parliamentary correspondent, and political journalist.

Notably, Dayan was the first woman in the IDF to serve as a journalist during her mandatory service. After her release from the IDF, she continued her journalism career at Galei Tzahal (IDF Radio).

Among the programs she led were the morning show "Boker Tov Israel," the daily interview program "Pgi'ah Yomit" (Daily Meeting), and a personal program summarizing the week called "Hayah Be'avir" (It Was in the Air). Currently, Dayan broadcasts the weekly program "Nechon L'Voker" (Ready for the Morning) on Galei Tzahal.

Her first appearance on television was on March 26, 1979, in a special program called "Zehu Ze" on the occasion of the peace agreements with Egypt, where she appeared as a young girl.

In 1987, at the age of only 22 and as a recently discharged soldier, Dayan began hosting the program "Erev Chadash" (New Evening). She continued hosting the program concurrently with her undergraduate studies until 1990 when she left for advanced studies in the United States.

During her studies in the United States, Dayan wrote a bi-weekly column for "Yedioth Ahronoth." She returned to Israel in the summer of 1993, just before the launch of Channel 2 broadcasts, and began hosting the investigative program "Ovda," which has been continuously broadcast on Channel 2 (now Keshet 12) to this day. In 2001, Dayan temporarily left "Ovda" for the new dedicated news channel but eventually returned to Channel 2 and "Ovda" in 2002.

On Thursdays, Dayan hosts the radio program "Nechon L'Voker" on Galei Tzahal. In 2008, alongside her work on "Ovda," she hosted a personal entertainment program called "Mi Shemedaber" (Who's Talking), where she conducted interviews with public figures.

As part of the investigative program "Ovda," Dayan has been involved in several controversies. In a dispute that arose in mid-2007 over the status of the Supreme Court, Dayan clearly positioned herself alongside supporters of maintaining the court's authority. She opposed the initiative of the Minister of Justice at the time, Daniel Friedmann, to make substantial changes to its status.

In November 2004, within the framework of the "Ovda" program, Dayan reported on an incident in the Rafah region in which an officer known as Sergeant R was accused of killing an unarmed Palestinian girl. Shortly after the broadcast, Sergeant R filed a lawsuit against her and the program for defamation, claiming that the segments aired in the program were edited in a tendentious and unfair manner, sometimes even distorting the facts to prove his guilt.

District Court Judge Noam Solberg accepted the lawsuit and ruled that Dayan and the program were guilty of defamation, causing them to pay compensation of NIS 300,000 to the plaintiff, reimburse his legal expenses in the amount of NIS 80,000, read out the main points of the judgment on the program, and clarify to the viewers that the broadcast conveyed a false message about the plaintiff.

The Supreme Court accepted Dayan's appeal, stating that although the broadcast harmed Sergeant R, Dayan enjoyed the defense of "truth spoken," as at the time of the broadcast, the facts were credible to a "reasonable journalist," clarifying the concept of "truth at the time." The judges canceled the requirement for an apology but ordered Talad to pay compensation of NIS 100,000 to Sergeant R for the early broadcasts, which were found to be defamation.

In September 2014, another hearing was held by a panel of nine judges, held at Sergeant R's request, not to change the operative result of the previous judgment and to expand the acquittal from "truth at the time" to "truth in full."

On January 7, 2016, Dayan published an investigative report based on findings by the "Ad Kan" organization about left-wing organizations in Israel. The report included evidence of Ezra Nawi, a left-wing activist, bragging about transferring Palestinian land dealers to the Palestinian Authority, knowing they would face death penalties.

Following the investigation, Dayan faced condemnations from left-wing organizations and activists, including a series of articles against her in "Haaretz." A Facebook page associated with the radical left disseminated a photo of her receiving flowers from Adolf Hitler. Dayan defended her decision to publish the investigation.

On November 7, 2016, as part of the "Ovda" program, an investigation was broadcast about the work carried out in the office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the involvement of the Prime Minister's wife, Sara Netanyahu, in office affairs.

In the final minutes of the broadcast, Dayan read a lengthy response from the Prime Minister's Office, which personally attacked her. Among other things, she was accused of being an extreme leftist who uses her program for political subversion aimed at toppling the right-wing government. The response sparked a public outcry.

Awards and Honors

In 2008, Dayan received an honorary award from the New Israel Fund for her contribution to promoting human and civil rights in Israel.

In 2009, she was awarded the title "Defender of Government Quality" by the Movement for Quality Government in Israel in the category of communication.

In 2015, Dayan received the Sokolov Award in the field of electronic media for "a series of in-depth investigations and groundbreaking work on the 'Ovda' program, her pioneering contribution to investigative television, the creation of a new investigative language, and being an example for a whole generation of investigative journalists."

In 2016, she received the "Guardian of Transparency" award from the Transparency International Israel Association.

In March 2018, Dayan received the "Lifetime Achievement in Television" award as part of the Academy of Television Awards.


Ilanit Dayan-Orbach is married to Harel Orbach and is the mother of two sons and a daughter. She is a resident of Shorashim. Her grandfather, Aryeh Dayan, was the first cousin of Shimon Dayan.

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