The Shin Bet, Israel’s domestic security and counterintelligence service, thwarted 500 terror attacks in 2018, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday at an awards ceremony for the organization’s agents who excelled in intelligence operations in 2017 and 2018.
“You have thwarted 500 terror attacks this year,” Netanyahu told assembled agents and staffers from the Shin Bet and other intelligence and defense agencies gathered for the biennial event at the Shin Bet’s northern Tel Aviv headquarters.
“That’s an incredible number. It means that hundreds of Israeli citizens owe you their lives. I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for continuing to shine this light, and for fighting each day with discretion, ingenuity, creativity and immense dedication,” the prime minister said.
According to a statement from the agency, six operations over the past two years were recognized in the ceremony for their “high level of planning, professional and flawless execution, and a result that contributed significantly to the goals of the service in the fields of disruption [of terror attacks or enemy espionage] and national defense.”
The operations recognized on Tuesday included several in the field of research and development, including in the cybersecurity realm, the agency said in a vague statement on Tuesday.
At least one operation was recognized for its contributions to the agency’s capabilities in artificial intelligence and machine learning. Other awards went to counterespionage operations, an operation that “enabled access to valuable and groundbreaking intelligence information,” another that involved “the ongoing thwarting of dangerous terrorist infrastructures that attempted to produce significant terror attacks,” and yet another that saw “the development of clandestine methods and operational tools for dealing with the numerous adversaries with which the Shin Bet must contend.”
Representatives of agencies that collaborated on the operations, whether from other intelligence services, the police or the military, were also part of the ceremony.
Shin Bet chief Nadav Argaman praised the award recipients. “We are celebrating Hanukkah today, the holiday of heroism that lionizes decisiveness, daring, and faith in the justice of our cause, a holiday that testifies to a tradition of victories and accomplishments.”
He added: “Excellence requires an element of innovation and creativity, the ability to create something from nothing, to think outside the boundaries of the known, to believe in an idea, even if it seems crazy at first, and not to let go when the way forward gets tough. You’ve stood this test successfully and proven to us all that the sky’s the limit.”