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Zvi Zamir

(1925 - 2024)

Zvi Zamir (Zarzevsky) was the fourth Director of the Mossad, and served from 1968–1974. He was born in Poland in 1925, and immigrated to the Land of Israel as a child with his family. He served in the Palmach, and fought in the War of Independence as a battalion commander. Among his positions in the IDF, he was the Givati brigade commander, commander of the infantry school, and a brigade commander during the Sinai (Kadesh) Campaign. He later served as head of the training department with the rank of major-general, and then served as the General of the Southern Command.

​In 1966, he began serving as the IDF’s military attaché in the UK and in Scandinavia.

In 1968, Zamir was appointed Director of the Mossad by Prime Minister Levi Eshkol, and served until 1974. During these years, terror activity by Palestinian organizations against Israeli and Jewish targets abroad increased, climaxing with the September 1972 murder of the 11 Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics by Black September. The Mossad had to contend with this new security threat, both from an information collection aspect and from a preventive aspect.

There were numerous additional terror events, including the hijacking of an El-Al plan to Algeria (July 1968); the shooting by Japanese terrorists in the Lod Airport, killing 27 and injuring 74 people (May 1972); the injuring of an Israeli embassy employee in Brussels (September 1972); the murder of a financial advisor in the Israeli embassy in London (September 1972); explosive envelopes sent from Amsterdam to Israel (September 1972); the hijacking of planes, including a Belgian SABENA flight from Vienna to Tel Aviv (May 1972); an attempt to shoot down an Israeli plane in Rome with a Strela shoulder-launched missile (September 1973), and more.

The multiple attacks in 1972 led to cooperation between the Mossad and the IDF in fighting terror. An example was Operation Spring of Youth, conducted in April 1973, in which senior Black September members were killed in Lebanon. This was one of the more daring and well-known operations carried out by Israel on enemy territory.

Zvi Zamir served as Mossad Director during the Yom Kippur War. The Agranat national commission of inquiry following the war, whose function was to investigate conduct before the war and during its early days, praised the alert information the Mossad had provided.

During Zamir’s term, the Mossad was also involved in rescuing Jews from communities in strife in troubled countries.

After retiring from the Mossad in 1974, Zamir served as the general manager of Solel Boneh, a construction and civil engineering company, and later became chairman of the refineries. He also held significant roles in public activities, including being a member of the Shamgar Commission that investigated the assassination of Prime Minister Rabin, and serving as chairman of the public council and a member of the management of the Gesher theater company. Additionally, Zamir was the chairman of the Institute for Petroleum and Geophysics Research and the Israel Petroleum and Energy Institute.

Zamir died on 2 January 2024, at the age of 98. 

Sources: Zvi Zamir, The Mossad.
Richard Sandomir, “Zvi Zamir, Israeli Spy Chief in a Critical Period, Dies at 98,” New York Times, (January 16, 2024).