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In firsts, Mossad’s director of intelligence and head of Iran desk are both women

Appointments mark first time women have held two senior positions in spy agency; Mossad chief: ‘Unlimited possibilities’ for women in organization; Bennett: ‘We’re in good hands’

The Mossad's new director of intelligence, known as Aleph, is the first women to take on the position. Her appointment was announced on August 18, 2022 (Defense Ministry Spokesperson)
The Mossad's new director of intelligence, known as Aleph, is the first women to take on the position. Her appointment was announced on August 18, 2022 (Defense Ministry Spokesperson)

The Mossad spy agency announced Thursday that for the first time ever a woman was recently appointed to the senior position of director of intelligence in the agency.

In a rare press release, the Mossad noted that there are now two women in top positions at the agency, with the second already serving in a key spot as the head of the Iran desk.

Identified only by their first initials in Hebrew, “Aleph” and “Kuf,” the pair are the first women in Mossad history to take up the positions.

According to the statement from the Prime Minister’s Office, Aleph has been involved in the intelligence establishment for around 20 years.

In her new position, the equivalent of the head of military intelligence in the IDF, she is in charge of the formation of the strategic intelligence picture at the national level on a series of issues including the Iranian nuclear program, global terrorism and normalization with the Arab world, the statement said.

Also, she is responsible for the intelligence in all the Mossad’s operations and manages many hundreds of employees in the professions of intelligence collection, analysis and research, it added.

Speaking at an award ceremony two months ago, Aleph said, “I will utilize this distinguished platform to call on women to realize their potential and influence in the security establishment, particularly the combat or technological units, in order to continue making their mark.”

Kuf, head of the Mossad’s Iran desk, is responsible for the organization’s “strategy against the Iranian threat in all its forms” and for coordinating between the operational, technological and intelligence branches of the Mossad in conjunction with the IDF and other relevant security branches, the statement said.

Naftali Bennett, who worked closely with the pair as former prime minister, heaped praise on the appointments in a series of tweets Thursday.

Mossad chief David Barnea at a ceremony marking his taking the helm of the agency, on June 1, 2021. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

Bennett called the appointments “a great decision,” adding that “just this past week I met them for an important work meeting, and as per usual I felt we were in good hands.”

Bennett continued “the two of them feel the great responsibility for the task appointed to them and for the development of the Mossad. Good luck!”

Despite stepping down as prime minister, Bennett still holds the Iran portfolio.

Mossad chief David Barnea welcomed the move, saying, “as soon as one enters the gates of the organization, there is complete equality between men and women. Many women serve in all roles in operations, as agents and operators of agents, and are integrated into the core of operations and intelligence, with talent, professionalism and energy.”

Barnea encouraged more women to join the Mossad, emphasizing that the “door is always open” to “men and women,” and that all that matters is their suitability for the role.

“It is important for the Mossad as a security organization that stands at the forefront of operations on behalf of national security, to inform women of the unlimited possibilities for them in the organization, and to be an example for other security organizations regarding the integration of women into key roles,” Barnea said.

A warehouse in Shorabad, south Tehran, where Mossad agents discovered and extracted tens of thousands of secret files pertaining to Iran’s nuclear weapons program (Prime Minister’s Office)

With Aleph’s deputy, referred to by the Hebrew initial “Hay,” also a female, the Mossad’s intelligence branch is now managed by two women, something the Mossad says is “unprecedented.”

The recent wave of appointments is a new high point for women in the Mossad after Aliza Magen was appointed deputy director almost 30 years ago.

Since then, women have held varying ranks within the secretive organization, such as in the Division Heads Forum. However until now, women have not held positions as director of intelligence or head of the Iran division.

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