Israeli bureaucracy embraces electronic mail

Apr 24, 2017

Israeli bureaucracy embraces electronic mail

IT is well-known that Israel has a great eco-system for start-ups.

Yet the country’s bureaucracy was entrenched in the old-fashioned fax machine set-up system till last year.

Remember the old fax machine? A person had to physically stand at the machine and manually fax each page one by one. And when something had to be faxed urgently, there was the likelihood of paper or toner issues or the machine would need repairs?

If people needed to send in documents to the Israeli government departments, they had to fax them in. If the faxes did not reach, they had to physically attend the offices to submit the relevant documents.

But in January 2016, the office of Social Equality Minister Gila Gamliel submitted a proposal as part of the ‘Digital Israel’ initiative.

“The decision that will be submitted for the government’s approval is no less than a service revolution and another step that will significantly ease the lives of Israeli citizens, who have until now been required to submit documents to government offices via snail mail or fax, and often to physically appear at the offices during limited hours, to deal with issues that could be solved simply by sending an email from a computer or cellphone,” Gamliel said last year.

Gamliel was quoted on the Arutz Sheva website as saying: "Sending e-mails to government offices will streamline their services for citizens, save hours of work and awkward bureaucratic burdens, and reduce the social gaps in the population. The Ministry for Social Equality, through the 'Digital Israel' project, is acting and will continue to act in order to adapt and make government services more accessible to citizens through digital and technological advances."

The Israeli cabinet passed Gamliel’s measure.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the bill. The Jewish Standard quoted Netanyahu as saying it was a simple measure, “but one which will make it much easier for Israeli citizens because from this decision on, citizens will be able to contact government ministries by email and not by fax.” (

Members of the public can submit documents to Israeli government departments via mobile phone apps as well.

And they can still submit documents via fax or in person.

But the fax continues to be a convenient tool in the digital age – in its new form called the electronic fax or online fax or efax.

With online fax, a person does not require a physical fax machine. They can fax documents using their computer, mobile phone or tablet. Even large files that normal email would not support can now be sent via internet faxing.

They can be ‘faxed’ using a mobile or tablet app. This means documents can be sent while the person is out of the office or home.