Richard Melson

March 2006

Shabak Israel

Shin Bet
Israel Security Service
Sherut ha-Bitachon ha-Klali (Shabak)

Yuval Diskin has taken over from Avi Dichter as Chief of the Shabak Security Service.

Dichter – Diskin

The Shabak like the Secret Service in the U.S. is responsible for the safety of the Prime minister and other state leaders.

It is fair to say that the relentless counter-terror campaign forced the Palestinians into accepting the current lull in terror attacks.

Dichter instituted the policy of lopping off the head of the terrorist infrastructure by taking out the leaders who 'inspired' the strategy of terror; it developed into the 'targeted killing' not only of the suicide bombers. Top of the list were Hamas leaders Sheik Ahmed Yassin and Abdul Aziz Rantisi. The second echelon was also taken out; they are the comptrollers who recruit suicide bombers and dispatch them to blow up Israeli civilians.

Diskin is said to have played a key role in this policy that kept the terrorists on the run.

In looking out for their own skins, the terrorists had far less time and energy to plan new attacks.

Not much is known about Yuval Diskin, his successor aged fourty-nine.

Shabak, or Shin Bet, the Israeli counter-intelligence and internal security service, is believed to have three operational departments and five support departments. The current director (2003) is Avi Dichter.

Shabak monitors the activities of and personalities in domestic right-wing fringe groups and subversive leftist movements. It is believed to have infiltrated agents into the ranks of the parties of the far left and had uncovered a number of foreign technicians spying for neighboring Arab countries or the Soviet Union. All foreigners, regardless of religion or nationality, are liable to come under surveillance through an extensive network of informants who regularly came into contact with visitors to Israel. Shabak's network of agents and informers in the occupied territories destroyed the PLO's effectiveness there after 1967, forcing the PLO to withdraw to bases in Jordan.

Shabak's reputation as a highly proficient internal security agency was tarnished severely by two public scandals in the mid-1980s. In April 1984, Israeli troops stormed a bus hijacked by four Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. Although two of the hijackers survived, they were later beaten to death by Shabak agents. It appeared that the agents were acting under orders of Avraham Shalom, the head of Shabak. Shalom falsified evidence and instructed Shabak witnesses to lie to investigators to cover up Shabak's role. In the ensuing controversy, the attorney general was removed from his post for refusing to abandon his investigation. The president granted pardons to Shalom, his deputies who had joined in the cover-up (but who aided its exposure), and the agents implicated in the killings.

In 1987 Izat Nafsu, a former IDF army lieutenant and member of the Circassian minority, was released after his 1980 conviction for treason (espionage on behalf of Syria) was overturned by the Supreme Court. The court ruled that Shabak had used unethical interrogation methods to obtain Nafsu's confession and that Shabak officers had presented false testimony to the military tribunal that had convicted him. A judicial commission set up to report on the methods and practices of Shabak found that for the previous seventeen years it had been the accepted norm for Shabak interrogators to lie to the courts about their interrogation.

In 1987 the Israeli government-appointed Landau Judicial Commission condemned torture but allowed for the use of "moderate physical and psychological pressure" to secure confessions and obtain information. In addition, although the Israeli Penal Code prohibits the use of force or violence by a public official to obtain information, the GSS chief is permitted by law to allow interrogators to employ "special measures" that exceed the use of "moderate physical and psychological pressure" when it is deemed necessary to obtain information that could potentially save Israeli lives in certain "ticking bomb" cases. The GSS first permitted interrogators "greater flexibility" in applying the guidelines shortly after a bus bombing in Tel Aviv in October 1994 that killed 22 Israelis. The Government has not defined the meaning of "greater flexibility" or what might constitute a "ticking bomb" case. At roughly quarterly intervals, the Government has approved the continued use of "special measures." On August 22, Israel's ministerial committee on GSS interrogations authorized the continued use of "special measures," including shaking.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) declared in 1992 that such practices violate the Geneva Convention. Human rights groups and attorneys challenged the use of "special measures," especially shaking, before the Israeli High Court a number of times. Israeli authorities maintain that torture is not condoned but acknowledge that abuses sometimes occur and are investigated. However, the Government does not generally make public the results of such investigations. Israel conducted two official investigations into the 35 complaints received in 1997. In 2000, the Israeli Supreme Court ruled against the use of torture by the Shabak, although the use of informants as proxies is rumored to serve as a loophole.

Shabak's reputation was further compromised by the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in November 1995 by a right-wing Israeli extremist.

Shabak was known as the General Security Service until 2002, when it was renamed the Israel Security Service.

Important events in Shabak history:

Heads of the Shabak:

The Shabak (in Hebrew,  "Shabak" an acronym of "Shérut ha-Bitahon ha-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 is whose translation is: "Defender (Shield) who shall not be seen".

The service consists of close to 5,000 employees.

Shabak Israel Yuval Diskin

March 3, 2006