When the State of Israel was declared, David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first Prime Minister, expressed his views on the necessity of creating intelligence agencies to operate on behalf of the nascent state. On June 7, 1948, he held his first meeting on this matter with intelligence officials. On December 13, 1949, following detailed staff work, Ben-Gurion appointed foreign ministry special operations’ adviser and former Jewish Agency state department official, Reuben Shiloah, to establish and head the ‘Institute for Collating and Co-ordinating Intelligence Operations.’ This date is considered the date the Institute for Intelligence and Special Operations was established.
On March 2, 1951, as a result of the experience gained in running State intelligence agencies, particularly in overseas’ operations, Ben-Gurion ordered Reuben Shiloah to set up the ‘Directorate,’ within the Institute for Coordination, to take all overseas intelligence operations under its wing. The ‘Directorate’ was the initial incarnation of the main collection unit in the Institute for Intelligence and Special Operations.
In 1952, Reuben Shiloah retired and was replaced by General Security Agency chief Isser Harel. He served as Mossad Director until 1963. The two founders shaped the Mossad to address the reality and the needs of the State of Israel in its early years.
Over the years the Mossad expanded into many fields (the most prominent of which were):
- Covert intelligence gathering beyond Israel’s borders.
- Developing and maintaining special diplomatic and other covert relations.
- Preventing the development and procurement of non-conventional weapons by hostile countries.
- Preventing terrorist acts against Israeli targets abroad.
- Bringing Jews home from countries where official Aliya agencies are not allowed to operate.
- Producing strategic, political and operational intelligence.
- Planning and carrying out special operations beyond Israel’s borders.
Some of the Mossad’s operations include:
These are only a sample of the Mossad’s operations, which include collecting information in accordance with priority intelligence requirements, covert relations with other countries and intelligence agencies – making major contributions to the peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan – redeeming MIA’s, technology and research.
Sources: The Mossad