PA Expert, Operational Veteran Emerge as Two Top Candidates to Head Israel’s Shin Bet Security Service
Two candidates have emerged as the most likely to be appointed as the new head of the Shin Bet, N12 reported Tuesday.
The current director of Israel’s domestic security service, Nadav Argaman, has been in office since 2016 and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett will make a decision on his replacement soon.
The two candidates considered most likely to succeed him are identified only as “R.” and “Y.” They are both veteran Shin Bet officials, though their specialties strongly differ, the outlet said.
R. is currently deputy head of the agency, and has extensive experience in the operational field, serving in almost every relevant capacity, including management, analysis, advanced technology, and direct operational command. He has a close relationship with Argaman and is considered a quintessential intelligence professional.
He has been involved in almost every major Shin Bet operation in recent years, including the assassination of the head of Hamas’ terrorist wing Ahmed Jabari in 2012, the exposure of Hamas’ underground tunnel network, and the destruction of Hamas’ underground “metro” network in May.
However, there has been some tension between him and Argaman, reportedly over the agency’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. R. is said to have proposed some far-reaching changes and reorganization of the agency in response to the pandemic, none of which were to Argaman’s liking.
Nonetheless, R. remains part of Argaman’s closest circle of advisors, and it is believed he would run the organization in a style very similar to his current boss.
Y., on the other hand, has had a different focus, in that he is considered one of the agency’s foremost experts on the Arab “street” and the Arab sector in general.
He is known to have a good rapport with the Palestinian leadership, and is believed to be particularly good at navigating the often-perilous intricacy of Israel-Palestinian diplomacy with patience and attention.
These skills, it is believed, could prove to soon be important, given that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is already in his 80s and in poor health, with no clear successor having yet emerged.
Y. is also considered to be well acquainted with the Israeli-Arab sector, having worked on the issue many times during his long service. In particular, he was head of the Shin Bet’s activities in Israel’s south, dealing with Gaza, Israeli Bedouin, and issues related to the Sinai.
Given the eruptions of inter-communal violence between Israeli Jews and Arabs in May, moreover, Y.’s expertise could be called upon in a way it has not in the past.
Besides the Arab sector, Y. also has extensive experience in technology, having played a major role in the development of the Shin Bet’s cyber capabilities and fostering technological research and development within the agency.
Like R., he also has extensive operational experience, including the 2012 assassination of Jabari, coordination with foreign intelligence services, and counter-espionage.