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Israel Intelligence & Security: Intelligence Agencies

A’man—Military Intelligence

A’man, or Agaf Hamode’in in Hebrew, produces comprehensive national intelligence briefings for the prime minister and the cabinet, daily intelligence reports, risk-of-war estimates, target studies on nearby Arab countries, and communications intercepts. It also handles cross-border operations. The organization uses reconnaissance commando teams behind enemy lines, aerial reconnaissance and military attaches stationed in overseas embassies to gather intelligence.

The Shin Bet

Sherut Habitachon Haklali (Shabak), better known as the Shin Bet, is Israel’s internal counterespionage and counterterrorist agency. It’s motto, inscribed on the organization seal, is “Defends and Shall Not Be Seen.” It is responsible for the security and protection of Israel’s prime minister and other governmental leaders as well as of defense industries, sensitive economic locations and Israeli installations abroad. The Shin Bet, which is sometimes compared to the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), also handles overall security for Israel’s national airline, El Al.

In August 2014 following Operation Protective Edge, the Shin Bet announced that it had foiled a major Hamas plot to carry out massive terror attacks in Israel and overthrow the Palestinian Authority in hopes of starting a third intifada.  Shin Bet arrested around 90 Hamas operatives in the search for the three kidnapped teens that sparked Operation Protective Edge, and also seized dozens of weapons and over $170,000 cash that was earmarked for funding terrorist attacks.  During the questioning of these arrested Hamas members the Shin Bet was able to get confessions that Hamas had been planning a large scale attack on Israeli sites including the Temple Mount and the Western Wall.  They stated that Hamas planned on staging a wide string of attacks against Israel, overthrowing Abbas's Palestinian Authority government, and then turning to Israel as a third intifada erupted.  The leader of this operation was reportedly going to be Hamas operative Riad Nasser. 

The Mossad

One of the world’s best known intelligence agencies, the Mossad (short for Hamossad Le’mode’in U’le’tafkidim Meyuchadim) uses agents to collect intelligence, conduct covert operations and counterterrorism. Its primary focus is on the Arab nations and pro-Arab organizations. According to published accounts, the Mossad has eight departments; the largest of these is the Collections Department, which is responsible for espionage operations and has offices abroad under both diplomatic and unofficial cover.

A clandestine operations branch, Metzada, executes delicate actions (including assassinations and sabotage) against foreign targets that are considered a significant threat to Israeli national security.

The Political Action and Liaison Department conducts political activities and relations with friendly foreign intelligence services and nations with which Israel has no diplomatic relations.

Lechima P’sichologit, the department known as LAP, covers the ever-growing sphere of psychological warfare and propaganda.

Sources: Israeli Foreign Ministry