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Israel Intelligence Agencies

A’man—Military Intelligence

A’man, or Agaf Hamode’in in Hebrew, produces comprehensive national intelligence briefings for the prime minister and the cabinet, daily intelligence reports, risk-of-war estimates, target studies on nearby Arab countries, and communications intercepts. It also handles cross-border operations. The organization uses reconnaissance commando teams behind enemy lines, aerial reconnaissance and military attaches stationed in overseas embassies to gather intelligence.

Soldiers are trained for military intelligence at the Military Intelligence and Cyber Instruction Unit (MICIU), the largest intelligence school in the Middle East. Soldiers learn about the language and culture of their enemies and can become fluent in a regional language in under two months. In addition to Arabic dialects, the school has increasingly focused on fundamentalist Islam and Persian. Hebrew is also taught to new immigrants and Israelis whose language skills need improvement. Students study from 8 a.m. until 11 p.m. daily for 10 weeks to get a matriculation certificate and then spend another 10 weeks in advanced courses.

The Shin Bet

Sherut Habitachon Haklali (Shabak), better known as the Shin Bet, is Israel’s internal counterespionage and counterterrorist agency. It’s motto, inscribed on the organization seal, is “Defends and Shall Not Be Seen.” It is responsible for the security and protection of Israel’s prime minister and other governmental leaders as well as of defense industries, sensitive economic locations and Israeli installations abroad. The Shin Bet, which is sometimes compared to the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), also handles overall security for Israel’s national airline, El Al.

The Shin Bet has successfully adapted to the changing security landscape to address modern problems.  Speaking at a conference in Tel Aviv during Israel's Cyber Week 2017, Shin Bet head Nadav Argaman said that the security agency had stopped over 2,000 potential terror attacks using cyber-technology since the beginning of 2016.  

The Mossad

One of the world’s best known intelligence agencies, the Mossad (short for Hamossad Le’mode’in U’le’tafkidim Meyuchadim) uses agents to collect intelligence, conduct covert operations and counterterrorism. Its primary focus is on the Arab nations and pro-Arab organizations. According to published accounts, the Mossad has eight departments; the largest of these is the Collections Department, which is responsible for espionage operations and has offices abroad under both diplomatic and unofficial cover.

A clandestine operations branch, Metzada, executes delicate actions (including assassinations and sabotage) against foreign targets that are considered a significant threat to Israeli national security.

The Political Action and Liaison Department conducts political activities and relations with friendly foreign intelligence services and nations with which Israel has no diplomatic relations.

Lechima P’sichologit, the department known as LAP, covers the ever-growing sphere of psychological warfare and propaganda.

Sources: Israeli Foreign Ministry
Shin Bet head says over 2,000 attacks thwarted with cybertech, Times of Israel, (June 27, 2017);
Anna Ahronheim, “The IDF’s Secret Weapon Against Iran,” Jerusalem Post, (October 10, 2019).