Richard Melson

September 2006

Yuval Diskin

Yuval Diskin & Shabak.

Yuval Diskin

Yuval Diskin (born: 1956) is the 12th and current Director of Shabak.

The Shabak is an acronym of "Shérut Bitahon Klali" known in English as the Shin Bet (which was how the Shabak was known in Israel in its early days) or the GSS (General Security Service), is the Internal General Security Service of Israel.

In the Israel Defense Forces,

Diskin served as deputy company commander of Sayeret Shaked

(the command Sayeret of the Israeli Southern Command).

In 1978, he was recruited to the Shabak and served as area coordinator for the Nablus district. During the 1982 Lebanon War, Diskin operated in Beirut and Sidon.

In 1984, he became the coordinator of Nablus District, and by 1989, also the Jenin and Tulkarm districts. In 1990, he was appointed Department head in the Shabak's Arab Affairs Branch. In 1994, he became the head of the Arab Affairs Branch.

From 1997, Diskin was appointed as the commander of the Jerusalem District. From 2000 to 2003, he was the Shabak's Deputy Director. From 2003, he was on a study sabbatical, during which he became special advisor to Mossad Director, Meir Dagan.

On May 15, 2005, he replaced Avi Dichter as Shabak Director.

Preceded by:
Avi Dichter

Director of the Shabak

Succeeded by:



Yuval Diskin appointed ISA Director 10 Feb 2005.

Yuval Diskin was born in 1956.

He has four children from his first marriage and a daughter by his current wife.

He holds a BA in Land of Israel Studies and Political Science from Bar Ilan University. He has recently completed a Master’s Degree (Dean’s List) in Political Science and Public Administration from Haifa University.

He served in the IDF Shaked Reconnaissance Unit from 1974 to 1978.

His last position was deputy company commander.

He began his career with the Israel Security Agency (ISA) in May 1978.

Between 1979-1984, he was coordinator for the Nablus District. During Operation Peace for Galilee he served in Beirut and Sidon. In 1984, he was appointed district coordinator and served in that capacity in Nablus, Jenin and Tulkarm (until the end of 1989).

In August 1990, he was appointed Director of the Dept. for Counter-terrorism in the Arab Affairs Branch and then Deputy Director of the Branch. In August 1994, he was appointed Director of the Arab Affairs Branch.

From 1993-1997, he was involved in establishing clandestine links with the leaders of the Palestinian security services.

In May 1997, he was appointed Director of the Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria Region and served in this capacity until June 2000.

In July 2000, he was appointed Deputy Director of the ISA and served in this capacity until 31 August 2003.

From October 2003-October 2004, he studied towards his aforementioned Master’s Degree at Haifa University.

Mr. Diskin was responsible for security coordination over a number of years, is deeply acquainted with the heads of the Palestinian security services, and has been responsible for an uncompromising war against terrorist infrastructures throughout Judea and Samaria.

During the worst years of terrorism, he headed the operational region responsible for destroying Hamas military infrastructures throughout Judea and Samaria.

During his tenure as ISA Deputy Director, he built and established, along with his counterparts in the IDF, the integrated counter-terrorism doctrine and an operational concept for foiling terror attacks and "ticking bombs."

In February 2005 Diskin was appointed ISA Director.

The Shaked Elite Unit

The Shaked Elite Unit was formed in 1948 during Israel's War of Independence. This unit was commended for repulsing the Egyptian armed forces attempting to invade Israel through the Negev. With the end of the war, Shaked became an integral part of the Givati (Marines) Infiltry Regiment. At present, this unit plays a major role in the War on Terror, protecting Israel's borders.

The unit was named "Shaked" (meaning almond).

Shaked was also an acronym for:

Shomrei Kav ha Darom, Guardians of the Southern Border.


Shabak emblem "Defender who shall not be seen"

The Shabak is an acronym of "Shérut Bitahon Klali" known in English as the Shin Bet (which was how the Shabak was known in Israel in its early days) or the GSS (General Security Service), is the Internal General Security Service of Israel.

Its motto translates into: "Defender (Shield) who shall not be seen".

The service consists of close to 5,000 employees.

It is one of three principal organizations of the Israeli Intelligence Community,

alongside Aman (the military intelligence of the IDF) and Mossad

(responsible for overseas intelligence work).

Duties and roles

The Shabak's duties are:

One of the Shin Bet's roles is to protect the lives of senior Israeli ministers and public servants (such as the President of Israel).

The Shin Bet is also responsible for preventing the funding of underground movements and terror groups whose members are Israeli citizens.

It accomplishes this goal by using interrogations and secret agents (HUMINT).

Legal status and methods

The Shabak relies mainly on HUMINT to extract information and gather intelligence. It uses informants from the local population in order to gather intelligence about planned terror attacks or about the location of terror leaders. Shabak had overwhelming success with informants, managing to target the top leaders of the Palestinian terror organizations—including hardliners such as Hamas and the Islamic Jihad. The killing of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin and Abed al-Aziz Rantissi shows how deeply Shabak has penetrated into the Palestinian militias.

As a result, the Palestinians groups, mainly the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades started killing suspected collaborators.

Shabak also extracts information by interrogating suspects. In 1987, after complaints about excessive use of violence in interrogations of Palestinian prisoners, the Landau Committee (headed by a former Supreme Court President) prepared a two-part report on Shabak's interrogation methods. Only one part was made public. It revealed that the Shabak regularly used violent methods of interrogation and that Shabak agents were tutored to lie in court about how evidence was uncovered. The committee report also gave guidelines for future interrogations but most of the details were in the secret part of the report. The open part revealed that the guidelines allowed Shabak to apply "moderate physical pressure" in the case of "necessity." In 1994, State Comptroller Miriam Ben-Porat, in a report not made public until February 2000, found that during 1988-1992 "Violation of the Landau Commission and the GSS regulations continued to be widespread in the interrogation facility in Gaza and, to some extent, in other facilities.… Veteran and senior investigators in the Gaza facility carried out severe and systematic violations. Senior GSS commanders did not prevent these violations." [1]

In 1999 the Israeli Supreme Court heard several petitions against Shabak methods.

It found that these included: (1) "forceful and repeated shaking of the suspect’s upper torso, in a manner which causes the neck and head to swing rapidly," (2) manacling of the suspect in a painful "Shabach position" for a long period of time, (3) the "frog crouch" consisting of "consecutive, periodical crouches on the tips of one’s toes," and other methods. The Court ruled that Shabak did not have the authority, even under the defense of "necessity," to employ such methods.

In the Justice Ministry, the Department For Special Roles, there is a senior investigator who checks complaints about Shabak interrogations. Shabak claims that it is now basing its interrogations only on psychological means. However, organizations such as B'Tselem and Amnesty International still regularly accuse Shabak of employing physical methods that amount to torture according to international conventions.

In 2002 the Israeli Knesset passed a law, regulating the activity of Shabak.

The law ruled that:



With the declaration of Israeli Independence, the Shin Bet was founded, as a branch of the Israel Defense Forces, and was headed by Isser Harel (the father of Israeli Intelligence, who later headed the Mossad). Responsibility for Shin Bet activity was later moved from the IDF to the office of the prime minister. During the 1948 Arab-Israeli war that was declared against Israel following the Israeli independence, the Shin Bet's responsibility included only internal security affairs.

It was only later that its responsibilities were extended to Counter-espionage and the monitoring of Israeli Arabs (Arabs who did not leave Israel during the 1948 war of Israeli independence and who were granted Israeli citizenship).

Early days

In the beginning, as part of the efforts to prevent undermining activity, the Shin Bet also monitored pro-Soviet opposition parties, which were suspected of supporting the Soviet Union over Israel if the Cold War would become an active full scale war. Today, this kind of activity is considered harmful to democracy. The political leadership, headed by David Ben-Gurion, made sure to silence publications that dealt with those activities, which were published only in Haolam Hazeh newspaper by Uri Avneri. A great controversy was created, when two Shin Bet agents were caught installing a bugging device in Meir Yeari's office (Yeari was the leader of Mapam - a Socialist Zionist party, but with favorable reviews on the Soviet Union and Joseph Stalin).

One of the Shabak's most important successes, though it is often incorrectly attributed to the Mossad, was to obtain a copy of the secret speech made by Khrushchev in 1956, when he denounced Stalin. A Polish edition of the speech was provided to the Israeli embassy in Warsaw by the boyfriend of the secretary of a Polish communist official. The Shabak's Polish liaison officer conveyed the copy to Israel. The Israeli government then decided to share the information with the United States, who published it with Israeli approval.

Up until the Six Day War, the Shin Bet continued to focus on counter-espionage and monitoring political activity among the Israeli Arabs. Shabak's most notable achievement in counter-espionage was the capture of Dr. Israel Bar in 1961 who was revealed to be a Soviet spy. Bar was a Lieutenant Colonel in the reserves, a senior security commentator and close friend of Ben-Gurion, and reached high Israeli circles. Bar was tried and sentenced to ten years in prison (which was later extended by the Supreme Court to fifteen years, following his appeal), where he died. In the same year, Kurt Sita, a Christian German from the Sudets and a professor in the Technion, was revealed as a Czech spy.

After the Six Day War

After the Six Day War, Shabak efforts to monitor terrorist activity in the West Bank and Gaza Strip become a more and more dominant part of the organization activity, and today it is considered to be the major part of Shabak's mission. Yeshayahu Leibowitz warned that the control over the territories will turn Israel into a "Shabak state". However, Shabak imposed restrictions on itself in order to not harm democratic values, separation of authorities and to prevent the risk that Shabak will be used in a totalitarian manner.

Years of crisis

During 1984-1986 Shabak went into a major crisis following the Kav 300 affair in which two terrorists who hijacked a bus and took hostages were executed without trial by Shabak officers, who later covered up the event and gave false testimonies. Following this affair, Avraam Shalom (then the head of Shabak) was forced to resign.

The event resulted in the Landau committee,

which regulated Shabak interrogation methods.

In 1995 a crisis followed the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Itzhak Rabin by Yigal Amir. Following the Shabak's failure to protect Rabin, Carmi Gillon was forced to resign. Later, the Shamgar investigation committee learned of serious flaws in the personal security unit and the provocative and inciting behavior of Avishay Raviv - an Agent provocateur of the Shin Bet Jewish Unit. Raviv obtained a "photoshopped" picture of Rabin in an SS uniform, created by two Chabadniks, and presented it in the infamous Zion Square demonstration in Jerusalem prior to Rabin's murder.

Gillon was replaced by outside "import", Israeli Navy admiral Ami Ayalon. Ayalon rehabilitated Shabak after Rabin's murder and worked hard to restore its reputation with the general public.

In 1996, a unit of the Shabak assassinated Hamas chief bombmaker Yahya Ayyash by planting an explosive device in his cellular phone.

The operation was carried out after an instruction by then Prime Minister Shimon Peres.

During the al-Aqsa Intifada

In 2002, Ayalon ended his 5-years term and he

was replaced by veteran Shabak official,

Avi Dichter.

Dichter, an ex-Sayeret Matkal commando and an experienced Shabak agent, restored Shabak's good reputation and tightened the working relationship with the Israeli Defence Forces and the Israeli police.

Foreign press hinted that Shabak is working tightly with the elite Israeli counter-terror unit, YAMAM.

Dichter was in charge when the al-Aqsa Intifada erupted. He managed to react quickly to changes and turn Shabak into a prominent player in Israel's war against terror-inciting Palestinians after the collapse of the 2000 Camp David Summit.

The Shin Bet is most known for its role in the conflict with Palestinians. The Shin Bet produces intelligence which enables the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) to prevent suicide bombings before they reach their destinations. This is usually done by preventive arrests and deploying road blocks when there is a serious alert.

In addition to preventing suicide bombings from the West Bank by arrests and special operations, Shabak is working tightly with the Israeli Air Force in order to pinpoint and kill terror masterminds and terrorist leaders by precision air strike. The targets are field commanders and senior leaders of Palestinian militant factions (which Israel consider as terrorists), mainly those of Hamas, but also of the Islamic Jihad, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the Fatah and even one Al-Qaeda linkman (Iad Al-Bik). These assassinations, called "targeted killings", are usually done by helicopter gunships, where both IAF commanders and Shabak agents sit together in the command center monitoring the operation. Shabak's task is giving intelligence when and where the target will be available for a strike and then reacting to IAF drone feedback and ensuring the men on the sight are indeed the wanted terrorists (this part is called "identification and incrimination").

Shabak's effective activity during the second Intifada boosted its reputation both among the Israeli public and counter-terror experts. [2]

Current events

In November 2003, four former heads of Shin Bet (Avraham Shalom, Yaakov Peri, Carmi Gillon and Ami Ayalon) called upon the Government of Israel to reach a peace agreement with the Palestinians. [3].

Ami Ayalon, along with Palestinian professor Sari Nusseibeh,

launched the National Census peace initiative.

Avi Dichter is one of the chief supporters of building a defence barrier against Palestinians in the West Bank. The Israeli government began building the Israeli West Bank Barrier in 2003. Dichter has since said that the barrier 'is working' and helps to prevent and reduce terror attacks. [4], [5]

In February 2005, Ariel Sharon announced that Yuval Diskin, a veteran Shabak field agent, senior negotiator with Palestinian officers and mastermind of the "targeted killings", will replace Dichter after he ends his five-year term.

On May 15, 2005 Diskin entered into office after Dichter left with great applause from the press, the politicians, and the public. Dichter has joined the political arena and is now a member of the Kadima party, founded by the former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon.

Rising Profile

Once considered a commitment to lifelong anonymity and even invisibility in Israeli society, today a Shabak agent who achieves high rank in the service, especially the director, is considered a candidate for membership in the top brass of the Israeli government and business community. This process follows a trend started by ex-generals and colonels of the Israel Defense Forces, the trailblazers including Moshe Dayan, Ariel Sharon, and Yitzhak Rabin. In the Shabak and the foreign intelligence Mossad service, the trend showed up much later, even though Isser Harel (who served as head of both services) and Meir Amit of the Mossad both served as lawmakers.

Ex-Shabak directors today are increasingly visible as candidates for higher office. Yaakov Peri became the chairman of Bank HaMizrahi in 2002, and also became a highly visible guest on television programs. Carmi Gillon serves as mayor of Mevasseret Zion near Jerusalem, while Avi Dichter and Ami Ayalon were at one time leading candidates for defense minister (Dichter for the Kadima party formed by prime minister Ariel Sharon, Ayalon on the Labour party ticket). Dichter eventually became Minister of Internal Security in the current government led by Ehud Olmert. Ayalon has attracted widespread following as a co-initiator with Palestinian dignitary Sari Nusseibeh of the non-governmental Peoples' Voice initiative to petition the governments in Israel and the Palestinian Authority for a permanent settlement.


The "Shabak technique" is an extreme interrogation technique used by the Shin Bet on Palestinian suspects. It has never officially been confirmed by the secretive Shin Bet as acceptable for use. Informal accounts by prisoners indicate it may involve forcing the subject to sit on a short stool or chair which is angled forward (so it's impossible to sit in a comfortable, stable position) and then tying their arms and legs behind them to the chair, while also covering their head with a bag and possibly subjecting them to extremely loud noise, such as music. The subject is then left in this condition for extended periods of time. Sleep is not allowed for the duration. If Shin Bet does in fact use this technique, it may be considered torture and therefore illegal under international law.

Lists and tables

Important events in Shabak history

(later, the Mossad).

Heads of the Shabak:

Yuval Diskin & Shabak

August 25, 2006