The Israeli intelligence and security services


The following FAQ relates to a document giving an account of Israel's security services. It was originally published by the United States in March 1979 and subsequently republished by another country soon after its first release. The latter publishers state that, whilst the USA supports Israel financially, the document shows that the US government has been made fully aware of [various practices] of the Israeli state.

The FAQ responses are faithful to the spirit of the original text but do not reflect the opinion of the author of this site. It will be web published in (slooow!) stages due to time constraints.


1. How is the document structured?

The document is entitled Intelligence and Security, ie, referring to Israel's intelligence and security matters at that date (1979). It is divided into eight parts, 'A', 'B', 'C', 'D', 'E', 'F', 'G' and 'H', each with subsections.

  • Section 'A' is the section on General matters. This is subdivided into "1. Background and development of services.... 2. Objectives and structure.... 3. Political aspects.... 4. Professional standards....".

  • Section 'B' is the section on Mossad--Secret Intelligence Service. This is subdivided into "1. Functions.... 2. Organisation.... 3. Administrative practices.... 4. Methods of operation....".

  • Section 'C' is the section on Shin Beth--Counterespionage and Internal Security Service. This is subdivided into "1. Functions.... 2. Organization.... 3. Administrative practices.... 4. Methods of operation....".

  • Section 'D' is the section on Military Intelligence. This is subdivided into "1. Functions.... 2. Organization.... 3. Administrative practices of the Directorate of Military Intelligence.... 4. Methods of operation.... 5. Relations with other services....".

  • Section 'E' is the section on Research and Political Planning Center. It comprises three paragraphs.

  • Section 'F' is the section on The National Police.

  • Section 'G' is the section on Key officials. The subsections cover Avraham Achi-Tuv, Yitzak Hoffi, and Yehoshua Sagi.

  • Section 'H' is the section on Comments on principal sources. The subsections are divided into "1. Source materials..... 2. Supplementary overt publications.....".


2. Shin Beth? Mossad? What are they?

Shin Beth is the Counterespionage and Internal Security Service (Sherut Bitachon Sladi), with the Police Branch of Military Intelligence (Sherut Modiin Shel Mate Artzi) and the Naval Intelligence and Security Service (Sherut Moddiin ve Betachon Kohot Ha Yam).

Mossad is the Central Institute for Intelligence and Special Duties (Mossad Letafkidim Meyouchadim).

Other organisations and bodies are listed which are referred to in the text are:

HaganahIrgun HaHaganaDefense Organization
HerutTnu'at HaHerutFreedom Movement
HistadrutHistadrut Haklaeit shel Ha'ovdim Be'eretz Yisra'elGeneral Federation of Labour in Israel
IDFTsva Haganah LeYisra'el (Zahal)Israel Defense Forces
ILPMifleget Ha'Avodah Hayisra'elitIsrael Labour Party
IrgunIrgun Tsva'i Le'Umi
Machleket Hackeker
Machleket Medinit
National Military Organisation
Research Division
Political Intelligence
MAKIMifleget Komunistit Yisra'elitIsrael Communist Party
MAPAIMifleget Po'ale Eretz Yisra'elIsrael Workers' Party
MAPAMMifleget Po'alim Me'uhedetUnited Workers' Party
MIAgaf Modiin (Sherut Modiin)Military Intelligence
Spearhead Groups
Clandestine Collection and Production
RAFIReshimat Po'ale Yisra'elIsrael Workers' List
RAKAHReshima Komunistit HadashaNew Communist List
ShaySherut YediothInformation Service
SIAHSmol Yisra'el HadashNew Israel Left
Va'adatVa'adat Rashei HasherutimCommittee of the Heads of Services

3. Where do Mossad and Shin Beth fit into the security structure? What is the role of each?

The main security and intelligence authority is Va'adat. This coordinates operations. Mossad is in charge of foreign operations and is answerable to the Prime Minister. Shin Beth is in charge of security and is directly under the Prime Minister. MI is in charge of strategic military intelligence and communications intelligence and answers to the Chief of Staff of the Israeli Defense Forces. The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs provides intelligence with support in research and political planning. The Ministry of Interior helps the National Police with investigations and border security.


Background and development of services

4. Have these services in the form they exist now always been so?

No. They emerge from the Zionist's underground force's (the Haganah's) intelligence section. When the Jewish Agency was established in 1929 at the Zionist Congress in Zurich, Switzerland, this intelligence arm of the Haganah which was known as 'Shay' (Sherut Yedioth) commenced its international operations. After the ending of the British Mandate in 1948 it emerged as an agency of government.

5. What is the Jewish Agency?

This was started to assist distressed Jews and support the Palestine Jewish community and initially comprised Zionists and non-Zionists, with a large American component.

6. Was the Jewish Agency an upfront organisation?

The Agency was or became very much under Zionist control and served as a cover for Shay, which was able to expand its Western Europe and United States undercover operations.

7. What was the principle of Shay?

    1923 to 1948: To:
  • Promote the establishment of the state of Israel;
  • Infiltrate Mandate installations to advise the Zionist leadership on British attitudes and proposed actions;
  • Collect political intelligence to be used in Zionist propaganda;
  • Penetrate Arab and anti-Zionist factions both in Palestine and elsewhere;
  • Monitor and control all Jewish extremist groups;
  • Provide security for the arms smuggling and illegal immigration programs of the Haganah;
  • Collect information on Nazi Germany to ensure security and escape channels of the Jewish underground in Europe, both during and after the Second World War.

8. What was the structure of Shay at this time?

Political IntelligenceMachlakit Medinit
Counterespionage and Internal SecuritySherut Bitachon Klali
Military IntelligenceSherut Modiin Shel Mate Artzi
Naval Intelligence and SecuritySherut Modiin ve Betachon Kohot Ha Yam

9. Who coordinated them?

These services worked separately and were individually responsible to different ministries. But the operatives were competitive and often acted without mandate, due to the postwar situation and the need for instant action. Sometimes this meant competition for the same agents and sources, where a Western European city might have several different services working there at the same time.

By April 1951, the jealousy and mistrust existing in the intelligence community, and the ultimate cost of uncoordinate effort, alarmed the Prime Minister and the cabinet. They therefore decided to reorganise the Israeli intelligence service.

10. What happened after 1951 to the services' organisation?

Reuven Shiloah was the individual who reorganised the intelligence and security services. This he did according to function and responsibilities. The Committee of the Heads of Services (Va'adat Rashei Hasherutim) was set up to coordinate their activities, and Shiloah was the chairman.

Naval Intelligence and Security Service and an embryonic air intelligence unit became the Military Intelligence (Agaf Modiin). The Political Intelligence Service was prised away from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and reorganised as the Secret Intelligence Service (Mossad Letafkidim Meyouchadim), ie, Mossad. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs however kept the Research Division (Machleket Hackeker). Shin Beth had several internal changes. The Special Tasks Division of the Investigation Department of the police was added. The reorganisation proved a success for the efficiency and coordination of the security apparatus.

This structure remained much the same during the Arab-Israel War (October to November 1956), the Six-Day War (June 1967), and the Yom Kippur War (October 1973).

11. Did this restructuring by Reuven Shiloah persist?

During the early to mid 1960s the Israeli government decided to reorganise the components' structure and duties. Despite the overarching body of the Committee of the Heads of Services, to whom the services were responsible, in actuality what happened depended on the personal relationship between the Prime Minister (Ben Gurion), who was also Minister of Defence, and the service heads. In 1963 Ben Gurion set up a committee to look at the structure as he was worried what might happen when he retired, which was shortly to happen. His view was that due to his own dual role the services functioned adequately, but he felt the chain of command to Va'adat Rashei Hasherutim was unclear as were the duties of the individual services. He asked the reviewing committee to define their subordination and tasks.

12. What was the outcome of the 1963 review of the Intelligence and Security Services?

This review was presented to the next Prime Minister, Levi Eshkol.

The committee stated that while the roles of Prime Minister and Minister of Defence did not necessarily have to belong to one individual, nevertheless the Prime Minister should know all about intelligence and security matters and these should be from different sources in order to maintain objectivity. It recommended the following:

  •    --The Ministry of Foreign Affairs Research Division. This should be made capable of presenting independent political assessments on the Middle East and elsewhere. The Research Division's promotion would balance the previous situation where the Military Intelligence Production Department produced the evaluations;
  •    --Mossad, which controlled the secret foreign information gathering, facilitated another independent assessment unit;
  •    --A special advisor to the Prime Minister. The committee saw this appointment as essential to help the Prime Minister in keeping in touch and monitoring the intelligence and security service activities.

13. Were these 1963 recommendations carried out?

The advisor was appointed and Shin Beth became answerable to the Prime Minister, rather than the Minister of Defence.

Isser Harel, former Chairman of the Va'adat and Director of Mossad, served as special advisor to Prime Minister Eshkol from September 1965 to July 1966. He resigned as a result of internal intelligence community policy disputes and was not replaced.

14. How far were the recommendations a success?

The issue of the special advisor and the other changes in the services was raised after the Yom Kippur War and the alleged failure of security intelligence. The consequence of this was that the Israeli government set up a commission, known as the Agranat Commission in November 1973 to examine the hostilities and the performance of the intelligence and security services.

The outcome of this was the commission's Partial Report (April 1974) — a final report never existing or being made public — which recommended:

  •    --the reactivation and strengthening of the Special Advisor to the Prime Minister post;
  •    --the setting up of a research and evaluation unit in Mossad;
  •    --the elevation of the Research Division in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This was to prevent over-reliance on the Military Intelligence;
  •    --a better need for operational coordination in collection of information but not the coordination of final intelligence judgements.

15. Were the 1974 recommendations of this new report of the Agranat Commission carried out?

From 1974 to 1976 they were enacted. A new special advisor in the person of Reserve General Rehavam Zeevi was appointed to advise on intelligence as well as counterterrorism. He liaised with the Director of Military Intelligence on behalf of the Prime Minister and also apprised the latter on the different views within the intelligence and security community. Zeevi resigned in October 1976 and his position was taken over by former Director of Military Intelligence, Brigadier (Ret.) Yehoshafat Harkabi.

  •    --In January 1975 the Research and Political Planning Center of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs began operation.
  •    --Changes in the Military Intelligence structure were carried out.
  •    --Mossad acquired its new research and evaluation unit for assessing information.
  •    --New people took over most of the intelligence and security components.
  •    --A Ministerial Committee on Security Affairs was set up in June 1977 by the Israeli government.


Objectives and structure

16. What are the objectives of the Israeli secret services?

The targets are:

1. The Arab States
    Gathering information on:
  • Capabilities and intentions towards Israel;
  • Relations with great and other powers;
  • Official installations and representatives throughout the world;
  • Their leaders, internal and inter-Arab politics;
  • The Arab morale;
  • The Arab military readiness and strategy
2. United States policy
    Collection of information on:
  • Secret US policy and decisions
3. US & the developed world
    Collection of information on:
  • Scientific intelligence
4. USSR & Eastern Europe
    Gathering information on:
  • Government policy towards Israel of these nations;
  • Jewish emigration issues
5. World
    Close monitoring of:
  • Anti-Zionist activity
6. Africa, and other nations of special interest
  • Political and economic intelligence information gathering;
  • Covert political, economic and paramilitary action programs
  • Arab propaganda


  • Anti-Zionist activity
8. Arab 'terrorism'
  • Isolated cross-border raids from Palestinian Fedayeen;
  • Increasing international attacks on Israeli personnel and property

17. Does the Israeli secret service act within Israeli law or outside it?

It is implied by Israeli law that the government is the only authority which can manage the external intelligence and security as no specific law empowers any other body to do so. The law which allows this authorisation is:

Paragraph 29 of the Basic Law"The Government is authorized to carry out on behalf of the State, in accordance with any law any act whose implementation is not lawfully entrusted to any other authority."

18. Is this sufficient authorisation?

Attempts without success have been made by government officials and others to have a more specific law enacted which covers the definition of foreign intelligence and security organisations and their operations.

19. What about internal security?

This is more clearly defined:

The Defense (Emergency) Regulations of 1945Set up under the British Mandate in Palestine. This gave the military the power to arrest and deport troublesome people. It allowed the designation of certain areas as "closed areas", requiring inhabitants to carry travel permits to cross them. The original regulations applied to both Jews and Arabs, but are now used to monitor the Arabs in Israel.

In 1966 administration of the regulations passed to the police. Internal security agent activity reportedly increased as a result.

Military Law of 21 June 1955Is concerned with internal security
Penal Revision (State Security) Law of 31 July 1957 Is concerned with internal security

20. Are there laws covering the endangerment of the Israeli state?

Penalties range from:

  • The death penalty;
  • Life imprisonment for treason or "assistance" to the enemy;
  • Three to 15 years imprisonment for
    - Espionage;
    -Contact with foreign agents;
    -Aiding and abetting a crime against state security;
    -Unauthorised disclosure of information by a public servant;

    No statute of limitations applies to divulging classified information.

  • 21. Who runs the Israeli intelligence and security community?

    The Va'adat.

    Co-ordination of all internal and external intelligence and security matters.Director of Mossad.
    The Chair (memune) of the Va'adat. He is directly responsible to the Prime Minister. The term memune connotes "preeminence among equals";

    Director of Military Intelligence.
    This position is now in reality more powerful than the Director of Mossad, this significance deriving from the need for ever military readiness of the state of Israel;

    Director of Shin Beth;

    Inspector General of Police;
    The Head of the Special Tasks Division (Investigations Department of the Police) occasionally substitutes for the Inspector General;

    Director General of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs;

    Director of the Research and Political Planning Center of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs;

    Advisers to the Prime Minister on political and military intelligence and antiterrorism.

    22. What is the function of Mossad?

    MOSSAD collects foreign intelligence and is in charge of external covert action.

    23. What is the function of Shin Beth?

    SHIN BETH is in charge of counter-intelligence and internal security.

    It also:
    -Acts as the government authority on personnel security;
    -Is responsible for the safety of the Prime Minister and other officials of importance;
    -Takes charge of the physical security of ports, airports and key military/industrial installations in Israel and for Israeli missions and external El Al operations;
    -In the 'Administered Territories' it must apply to the military to undertake arrests and searches.
    It cannot, however:
    -Conduct an arrest. The power for this lies with the Special Tasks Division of the Investigations Department of the Police, with whom Shin Beth works in close liaison.

    24. What is the function of the Inspector General of Police?

    The INSPECTOR GENERAL OF POLICE runs the Border Guard. This body guards the cease-fire lines, preventing Arab infiltration. It also has charge of detecting and preventing Fedayeen terrorists. In recent years it has been used to "suppress riots and demonstrations" on the West Bank.

    25. What is the function of the Military Intelligence?

    The MILITARY INTELLIGENCE is in charge of strategic and tactical intelligence.

    It also:
    -Furnishes national intelligence estimates;
    -Assesses all information about the Arabs;
    -Develops and protects communication codes and ciphers for the services, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and for communications intelligence.

    26. What is the function of the Research and Political Planning Center?

    The RESEARCH AND POLITICAL PLANNING CENTER (formerly the Research Division of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs) scrutinises initial intelligence from various sources for the policymaking level of the state.

    27. Are there any other organisations or state departments involved in the supply of intelligence?

    Yes, these are:

    • The Ministry of Finance (Customs and Excise, Investment and Securities);
    • The Ministry of Tourism;
    • El Al, the Israeli airline;
    • Zim, the Israeli shipping line;
    • Also non-governmental Zionist and Jewish communities inside and outside Israel give help when needed.

    28. How many personnel are we talking about working for the Va'adat (1977)?

    Intelligence sectionPersonnel allocation
    Of these, officers number approximately 500
    Shin Beth1,000
    Of these, officers number approximately 550
    Military Intelligence7,000
    Of these officers number 450, others are enlisted personnel and civilian clerks
    Research and Political Planning Center, Ministry for Foreign Affairs75-100
    PoliceApproximately 12,000
    Border GuardsApproximately 6,000

    29. What is the financial allocation for state intelligence?

    The funds are "concealed" in the defense budget. The only officers with access to this information are the Prime Minister, the Minister of Defense, one or two top assistants, the Minister of Finance, the State Comptroller and his Defense Services Inspectorate.

    30. Who is the State Comptroller?

    The State Comptroller deals with the requests for funding, which are made by the directors of the intelligence services at the beginning of the fiscal year in April. The budget negotiations start with estimates of expenses given by the directors (who all have reputations for honesty and integrity). The Ministry of Finance works on a 10-year projection of expense requirements ("an impossible task which is not taken seriously").

    The Comptroller holds meetings with the directors and their staff. He examines their programs in detail. This takes place during the month of May. The result is a "redefinition of the entire intelligence and security effort and its cost". The process of deciding final budgets ends by October, based on the analysis completed the previous May. The final financial allocation is then submitted for higher approval. When approved it is time for the new planning and budgeting cycle to begin again.

    The State Comptroller also inspects the administrative support for the services. This is managed by the Ministry for Defense. The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) provides and funds specific cover. There is also close cooperation between the civilian intelligence and security services and military intelligence.

    An Assistant Director-General annually inspects the bookkeeping, financial management and administration procedures of the defense and security services, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, and the police. His objective is to ensure these are operated economically, efficiently and with "irreproachable morality".

    31. Do the intelligence services cooperate with one another in addition to that suggested in FAQ.30, and how is any cross-over funded?

    Yes. Money, personnel, equipment and materials constantly change hands between the services. The salaries of the personnel are paid by their assigned office. So an intelligence officer from the Ministry for Foreign Affairs on loan to the Jewish Agency in New York would have expenses and salary paid by the Agency, but does not lose his rank nor retirement status whilst doing so.


    Political Aspects


    32. Do the government and the intelligence services get on with one another?

    The services "enjoy a strong position in the government, and their affairs are well integrated into more general operations". The older government members who were party to the establishment of the state of Israel also "were companions of longstanding and joint veterans of such enterprises as illegal immigration and arms-running". Many of the present leaders of Israel were once members of the military, fighting the Arabs, and came into politics through a relationship to the more important political parties. All of them "had some experience in clandestine matters" and therefore appreciate good intelligence and security.

    33. What kind of government support do the services receive?

    The Ministry for Foreign Affairs provides particularly good support. "Many senior diplomats are former intelligence officers". They therefore know the business, and "serve as valuable auxiliaries" to intelligence service members who are ensured cover by the Ministry.

    34. Do diplomats make good 'spies'?

    Israeli diplomats are more than likely to have another language, area knowledge or other specialisation which allows them to broaden their social base and so further their contacts. Diplomats might have been, for example, former citizens of the countries to which they are assigned. The information they gather is available immediately for use in operations or to be put on file. Because of the lively nature of a social diplomat's life and its extension outside the embassy, it is difficult for the countries he resides in to detect the diplomat who is also an intelligence officer.

    35. Apart from the Ministry for Foreign Affairs do any other departments give support?

    Yes, similarly strong support comes from the Ministry of Defence and the Jewish Agency.

    36. Apart from diplomats, are 'spies' drawn from other areas of life?

    Government and the private sector are also areas where the Israeli intelligence service have a position. Like the leaders of the Israeli state, civil service and business leaders at some time have either been a part of or have been closely associated with intelligence operations.

    37. Do intelligence operatives play a duel role then in government/business as well as in the services?

    Those with a background in the Service may well be appointed to government roles. So the operations of the service are backed up by personnel in government or business who understand their needs.

    38. Is there a political bias to the services?

    The services are supposedly non-political and its members are not allowed to participate in partisan politics.

    39. So who decides service involvement in government matters?

    The political place for forming sensitive policies and deciding action starts with the Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee of Knesset. The Director of Mossad and the Director of Shin Beth would be invited to meetings where their interests are involved.


    40. Do the intelligence services and the people of Israel get on with one another?

    The present [1977] relationship between the services and the populace is good. They are seen as the defenders of Israel and heading the fight against Arab "terrorists" and their armies and so most of the population support the service's activities. The historical development of the state of Israel together with the "long continuing struggle" against the Arabs makes for little dissent in this matter.

    41. What dissent is there against the intelligence service's operations?

    Rivalry and disagreements in politics have in the past promoted attacks against the service, with opponents accusing it of giving rise to a police state.

    42. Has the service done things which can be defined as attributes of a 'police state'?

    On a few occasions, representatives have had to appear in closed court, defending accusations of "kidnapping, brutality and illegality". "Although debates in the Knesset occasionally have reflected probably illegal practices or procedures by the services," the loyalty of the intelligence and security community is such that if they were asked to execute legal or illegal tasks, they would do so.

    43. Have there been peaks of popularity for the services?

    Significant periods of popularity for the services have been:

  • 1967. The Six-Day War.
    The Israeli media heaped praise upon the activities of the Military Intelligence, as well as Shin Beth and the police for helping with the victory and in controlling the Arab areas brought [under occupation];

  • 1973. The Yom Kippur War.
    The failure of this war, however, caused popular doubt in the services. But public confidence was partly brought back by the work of the Agranat Commission, which was set up to assess the intelligence community, its disabilities and improve cooperation amongst its various parts.

    Further operations by the services against "terrorism" have contributed towards keeping the public loyal:

  • 1976, July. The Entebbe Raid.
    This rescue of hijacked Israeli hostages caught the public imagination and was a well-coordinated and well-executed operation. The Israelis were cheered by this success and the intelligence community looked good as a result.


    Professional Standards

    44. What about the internal financial culture of the intelligence services? What is 'protektsia', for example?


    This has been characterised by highest professional standards of integrity and honesty throughout. There is little difference between salaries regardless of the level of position. But this has led to the granting of privileges to create differentiation: expense accounts, purchasing of tax-free goods, and low-cost housing or privileges through influential government connections, known in Israel as protektsia. "Because the intelligence and security services, especially Shin Beth, maintain a very tight cover within their own community, information on personnel, budgets and accounts" is only known to a few top government people and not subject to normal bureaucratic consideration and control. The higher graded personnel study carefully the expenditure of funds lower down the ranks and any financial dishonesty is severely punished.

    45. How is the effectiveness of the service maintained ?


    "Israel's intelligence and security services are mong the best in the world. Their expert personnel and sophisticated techniques have made them highly effective, and they have demonstrated outstanding ability to organize,screen and evaluate information obtained from recruited agents, Jewish communities, and other sources throughout the world." Hence their advantage over the Arab world, as in 1967.

    Much of this can be attributed to those members who came from the Information Service and older parts of the Haganah, before and after World War II. A core of capable and highly-educated individuals from Europe and the Middle East were recruited. The main body of the 'Old Guard' is multi-lingual, fluent in four to five languages. The younger generation is highly trained, being sent abroad and sometimes "engag[ing] in clandestine operations while pursuing their course of studies".

    In the past Israeli signal intelligence successes were enormous, partly due to poor Arab communications security. This reduced the need for good agent operations.

    46. Are there any weaknesses in this Israeli intelligence ?

    With the improvement of Arab communications security we see, for example, the Yom Kippur War intelligence failure.

    The reason for this is possibly that "the production of most finished intelligence and the preparation of national estimates is done by Military Intelligence rather than by an independent service". In the Yom Kippur War it was seen that the armed services were not objective enough in "observing and reporting foreign developments and making national intelligence estimates" as well as bias caused by vested interest in military operations. The Agranat Commission has recommended changes.

    47. Isn't it dangerous to be a member of the Israeli intelligence ?

    (c) SECURITY

    The Tel Aviv headquarters is reported to be excellent. Mossad used to be located in the centre of the city in a general army compound, protected by high wire fences and guards. Military Intelligence still remains there but Mossad now has a wing of a multistory commercial office building across the street. Shin Beth, formerly inhabiting a rundown building in Jaffa, took new quarters north of Tel Aviv in June 1970. This purpose-built building, controlled by guards, is fenced in and contains a technical laboratory plus its offices. Employees within the compound wear badges bearing a photograph. (Israeli citizens themselves are subjected to stringent registration requirements and must carry identification papers.)

    Identity of intelligence personnel are not revealed to even other government employees. Compartmentalisation is maintained between the intelligence services with only designated 'hard-core' individuals crossing lines. Intelligence and security personnel widely use pseudonyms and change names. (In addition, Hebraicizing European or Yiddish birth names also makes identification difficult.)

    • Certain unlisted and personal telephone numbers are known only to relatively few people. This at home professional demeanour is excellent training for when going onto foreign assignments.
    • Classified information may not be discussed over the telephone.
    • "Installations and storage containers must conform to rigorous security standards.
    • Classification terms Top Secret, Secret, Confidential and Restricted (comparable to For Official Use Only) are used.
    • Secret documents are transmitted by courier only in double envelopes and two receipts are required—one for the package and one for the contents." These are logged in and out by date, document number, title or subject, and the office accepting responsibility for them.
    • At least three periodic inventories are held each year. A registry produces a computer printout four times a year listing all Top Secret material for which each unit is responsible.
    • Electrical communication is handled entirely by teleprinter and other communication security devices.
    • A record is made of documents to be destroyed and security officers must witness the destruction of all Top Secret and Secret material."

    48. What about their visitors ?

    There is a highly protected 'guest house' for the training and accommodation of visiting foreign intelligence, foreign dignitaries and sensitive agents.

    "Visiting foreign officials and agents never use the same car twice when meeting clandestinely with Israeli officers within the country."

    49. How can they be so sure that intelligence staff are loyal ?

    All of the 1,000 plus staff officers working for Mossad and Shin Beth have been given a long, thorough security check. Any doubt in an applicant results in their application being rejected.

    Left-wingers are generally now not trusted. Internal security systems to reveal ideological weaklings with periodic security checks. The latter are seen to be potential long-term security threats. New immigrants from USSR and East European countries are normally denied access to classified information for a minimum of four to five years.

    All personnel requiring clearance must complete a personal history statement and undergo tourine investigation. For higher clearances this may involve the whole family and full field investigation.

    50. Have there ever been any embarrasing internal traitors ?

    Yes, as was shown by the exposure of high-level spies in government and political parties in the late 1950s and early 1960s. It once was the case that former members of European Communist parties, "some of whom were eminently qualified for clandestine service, especially if they had renounced their Communist ideology and affiliated with the Israeli Labor Party" were considered suitable recruits. This did not apply after the scandals.

       Israel Beer

       Figure 1- Soviet Agent Israel Beer

    Both the following spied for the USSR:

  • Aharon Cohen.
    A MAPAM party expert on the Middle East, and

  • Israel Beer.
    A Defense Ministry contract employee and IDF Reserve lieutenant colonel.
  • And for the Czech service:

  • Dr Kurt Sitte.
    A Gentile professor of physics at Haifa Technion.

  • 51. Are there any major security weaknesses ?

  • The 'Old Boy' network : Much like the British, the Israelis have an 'old-boy' network and will discuss classified subjects whether there is any 'need to know'.

  • Common religious ties : Overseas Jewry's support is needed but security is questionable because of possitiblity of divided loyalty.

  • Proteksia : This makes it difficult to follow the custom of excluding USSR and East-European immigrants from access to classified information.

  • 52. What is the normal security breach prevention ?

    "Within the IDF security risks are reported to Shin Beth and are closely supervised by the unit security officer, who is required to make periodic reports on the individual's activities. To stimulate and evaluate the security consciousness of the IDF cadre, Field Security personnel circulate among the troops and attempt to elicit military information."

    53. Is it easy to recruit young Israelis to the Intelligence Service ?


    Mossad and Shin Beth are part of the Israel civil service structure and applicants have to pass a civil service examination. The preferred candidate is in their twenties and holds a university degree, unless has a particularly desirable alternative qualification. Recruitment for the services competes with the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the growing business community. "Most young Israelis do not like the anonymity of the secret service and prefer the more remunerative pay scales of the business world." Those personnel who cannot cope with the circumscribed life limited by security restrictions and operational considerations are dropped. If they jeopardise the state they are severely punished. In the early 1960s the service asked for and got a 30% annual bonus from the Knesset to compensate for the risks and necessary anonymity.

       Figure 2- Organization of Israeli Intelligence and Security Services, 1977.

    Figure 2. Organisation of Israeli intelligence and security services, 1977

    To be continued.