Nadav Argaman, the man named to head the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet).
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Yoram Cohen, whose face would not be readily recognizable by much of the public and whose voice has been heard only rarely in the media, stepped down Sunday as head of the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) after five years at its helm.
At a ceremony at the Prime Minister’s Office where he was formally replaced by his deputy Nadav Argaman, Cohen said that, during his tenure, the Shin Bet – in cooperation with the IDF and police – had prevented “many hundreds” of attacks from shootings to mass attacks to kidnappings.
“Thwarting these attacks prevented the deaths of many people,” he said. “Unfortunately, we did not succeed in saving everyone. The Shin Bet, he said, also foiled numerous attempts to spy on Israel, including in the cyber sphere.
“The public confidence in the Shin Bet and its people is decisive in its ability to achieve its goals,” he said.
During his time as its head, Cohen said the Shin Bet tightened its cooperation with colleagues abroad “amid the awareness that we are all dealing with global threats and that operational cooperation is a significant force multiplier in the struggle against terrorism and espionage.”
After thanking the members of the Shin Bet, who he said risk their lives and operate in very difficult situations, he also expressed gratitude to those outside the agency who “help” the organization fulfill its aims.
“These people are even more anonymous and confidential then the Shin Bet workers themselves, and often risk their lives for Israel’s security,” he said. “I want to express to them my gratitude and appreciation, and that of the state, for their decisive contribution to thwarting attacks.”
The Shin Bet, he said, works “tirelessly to prevent and thwart terrorist activity, guided by the obligation and duty to save lives, without distinguishing between who are the perpetrators and what their motivations are.”
On a personal note, Cohen said he hoped his actions have been a source of pride for his parents.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in taking leave of Cohen – whom he appointed in 2011 – praised him for leading the Shin Bet with “determination and professionalism,” as well as with “characteristic quiet, modesty and lots and lots of results,” while noting that there are hundreds of warnings each week, sometimes each day, and almost all are dealt with immediately.
In accepting the baton from Cohen, Argaman said Israel’s existence “is not a given even 68 years after independence. It is our obligation to ensure our existence and future here in the Land of Israel and Jerusalem, the eternal capital of the Jewish people.”
In a related development, Transportation and Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz announced on Sunday the appointment of Hagi Zuriel as director-general of the Intelligence Ministry.
Zuriel, a 27-year veteran of the Mossad whose positions have included the organization’s representative in the US, will replace Ram Ben-Barak.