New Shin Bet head: Ready to take on Iran, Israeli-Arab violence

PM Bennett: We will deter enemies from causing trouble

  Turnover ceremony for incoming Shin Bet chief Ronen Bar, October 13, 2021. (photo credit: CHAIM TZACH/GPO)
Turnover ceremony for incoming Shin Bet chief Ronen Bar, October 13, 2021.
(photo credit: CHAIM TZACH/GPO)

New Shin Bet Director Ronen Bar on Wednesday emphasized he would immediately take on threats emanating from Iran and its proxies as well as the wave of murders of Israeli-Arabs in Israel at a ceremony in which he took charge.

Bar replaced outgoing chief Nadav Argaman, who has directed the homeland security and intelligence agency since May 2016.

"The central threat to peace in the region, the Shiite crescent led by Iran, the engine of terror, spying and influence will continue to be at the heart of the [Israeli] intelligence community's focus, including the agency," said Bar. 

He continued, "as a function of its role and responsibility, the agency will act to thwart this threat from any place where it is identified, within Israel, outside the country and in the cyber arena."

Regarding the wave of murders of Israeli-Arabs, he said, "after we review the issue, we will present a proper balance between our contribution to strengthen the police versus increasing the direct involvement of the agency. It is clear to us that this is a national mission," requiring all hands on deck.

  Turover ceremony for incoming Shin Bet chief Ronen Bar, October 13, 2021. (credit: CHAIM ZACH / GPO) Turover ceremony for incoming Shin Bet chief Ronen Bar, October 13, 2021. (credit: CHAIM ZACH / GPO)

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, who nominated Bar on September 1, said, "we must drive forward to the goal in which there is no room for doubt and in which we remove from the enemy any desire to challenge us" with terror or other security threats.

Bennett said he picked Bar because he could yell he would "always take the initiative and always find ways to explain how something is possible, and not why it is not possible" in fighting terrorism.

Argaman reported that during his tenure 2,261 significant terror plots were thwarted, but that 54 citizens were killed and 529 significant terror plots were carried out.

He said he took pride in the Shin Bet's achievements, but that the agency's job was never finished.

Israel's President Isaac Herzog hosted the outgoing and incoming directors on Wednesday. 

"Shin Ben director is a very important job, maybe the most important," said Herzog at the meeting.

Herzog wished Bar luck saying "you are accepting a very big job, the eyes of the people are on your job and abilities. It is not simple, you are facing a huge challenge."