Nadav Argaman on Sunday began his tenure as head of the Shin Bet security service, taking the helm of the domestic intelligence agency as tensions ramp up with Gaza.
Argaman, a career security man, succeeds Yoram Cohen as director of the service — which is Israel’s equivalent of the US FBI or Britain’s MI5.
The agency is chiefly responsible for dealing with Palestinian terror in Israel and in the West Bank and Gaza, gathering intelligence and taking part in arrest operations and assassinations of terror leaders.
He enters the role as tensions in southern Israel have skyrocketed, with a number of cross border exchanges taking place between Israeli troops working to uncover attack tunnels and Hamas fighters in Gaza over the last several days.
Argaman is slated to be officially sworn in Sunday afternoon, after getting the go-ahead from a civil service vetting panel earlier this year.
Argaman previously served as deputy head of the agency.
He was drafted into the Israel Defense Forces in 1978, serving in an elite unit. In 1983, he joined the Shin Bet, where he served in a variety of operative roles.
From 2003 to 2007, Argaman was the Shin Bet’schief of operations, and was the agency’s representative in the US from 2007 to 2011; he was made deputy head of the agency upon his return to Israel, and served in that role for three years.
In 2014, he joined Israel’s Atomic Energy Agency but was returned to his Shin Bet role in 2015.
A statement from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office earlier this year said Argaman “has a proven track record of commanding and operative experience at the Shin Bet. I am certain that under his command the Shin Bet will continue to grow stronger on the operative and technological fronts, and will continue to protect the security of Israel.”
Argaman, 55, is married and a father of three. Unlike the head of the Mossad intelligence agency Yossi Cohen and the Israel Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich, who are both religious, Argaman is secular.
Argaman holds a BA in political science from Haifa University, and a Master’s degree in security and strategy from the National Security College at the Haifa University.
According to Israeli news site Ynet, Argaman “was responsible for the assassination of one of the top Gaza targets, ‘the Engineer’ Yahya Ayyash, and as the deputy director, he led the operation to assassinate Hamas military chief Ahmed Jabari.”
Hamas bomb expert Ayyash, previously known as Israel’s “public enemy No.1,” was killed in 1996 at his Gaza hideout by a mobile telephone rigged with explosives by Israeli agents.
Jabari, deputy head of Hamas’s military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, died in 2012 when an Israeli missile blew his car apart on a Gaza street, kicking off the IDF’s week-long Operation Pillar of Defense.