“The agency will have to adapt quickly to the new strategic reality that is
changing in the region,” Yoram Cohen said on Sunday as he took up his post as
the director of the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency).
Making history as
the first religiously observant man to hold the top domestic security position,
Cohen was selected by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to succeed outgoing Shin
Bet chief Yuval Diskin, who wrapped up six years in the post and 33 years of
service in the agency.
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“He [Diskin] has done a lot for the State of
Israel,” Netanyahu said. “I am unable to say everything, but I can say that
Yuval is a fighter. He started out in the [IDF’s] Shaked Reconnaissance Unit,
was a deputy company commander and came [to the security agency] with this
spirit, that of a field commander, that of a man trained in carrying out
missions. He infused this spirit into the Shin Bet and I must say that the
results speak for themselves.”
Netanyahu praised Diskin’s tenure under
which the Shin Bet – together with the IDF – succeeded in bringing Palestinian
terrorism to very low levels after the bloody times of the second
Cohen was Diskin’s deputy from 2006 to 2008 after serving in a
variety of posts within the agency, including as head of the department charged
with preventing Arab and Iranian espionage in Israel. Cohen beat out Diskin’s
current deputy “Y.” who was rumored to have been the leading candidate for the
post. He will likely resign.
In 2009, Cohen took a leave of
absence and spent a year as a research fellow at the Washington Institute for
Near East Policy. In 2010, he returned to the agency and headed up teams
that worked on developing new technology.
In his speech, Cohen warned
that the ongoing upheaval throughout the Middle East could evolve into new
threats for Israel.
“This potential for escalation joins and influences
other existing threats that we still have to deal with on the Palestinian
front,” Cohen said.