This timeline includes intelligence and covert operations from the Israel War of Independence to 1955, including creation of the Mossad, Shabak (ISA, GSS, Shin Bet) and AMAN (Military Intelligence).
Israel Pre-State Intelligence Timeline | Israel Intelligence Timeline - 1948-1955 | Israel Intelligence Timeline 1956-1960 | Israel Intelligence Timeline 1961-1967 | Israel Intelligence Timeline 1968-1973 | Israel Intelligence Timeline 1974-1982 | Israel Intelligence Timeline 1983-1991 | Israel Intelligence Timeline 1992-present
Intelligence gathering and covert operations are part of the normal function of any state. Israel has spied, and been spied against. A great deal of the success of Israel, a tiny and weak state for most of its existence, and of the Zionist movement before the creation of the state, was due to its renowned information gathering and covert operations activities, carried out by the Mossad, the IDF and the Shabak. The exploits of Israeli intelligence have been lauded by its friends, and naturally enough, condemned by its enemies. Israeli intelligence has also had a number of failures, and some of them were responsible for key setbacks, such as failure to predict the Yom Kippur War.
These timelines provide detailed accounts of Israeli and Zionist covert activities since 1915.
A Timeline of Zionist and Israeli history provides further context and background
A detailed timeline of the Six Dar War 1967 Six Day War Timeline (chronology)
Latest Israel News
||Nov 29, 1947||
United Nations General Assembly Resolution 181 calls for partition of the Palestine mandate into Jewish and Arab states. Arab riots and violence follow shortly thereafter, inaugurating the first phase of the Israel Israeli War of Independence. The Arab League Palestine Salvation Army is created. The order of the day is to wage war in Palestine and "rid that country of its Jewish population." Jerusalem is soon put under siege by the Arabs. The Haganah Shai in Jerusalem, headed by Yitzhak Levi ("Levitza") and Izhak Navon, later President of Israel, taps into the Jerusalem telephone network, listening in on British and Arab conversations, and is able to provide accurate information on plans for evacuation of Jerusalem and Palestine, as well as information on Arab attack plans. Covert agents of the state in the making purchase arms in Europe and the United States, most of which will be brought into the country as soon as the British are left. Other agents divert a shipment of 10,000 rifles that was originally bound for Syria, to be used by the Palestine Salvation Army.
|May 14,1948||The State of Israel is declared. On the following day, the British evacuate Palestine, and the armies of Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Iraq, and Lebanon, invade.|
|May 15||Israel becomes an independent state.|
|June 7||Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, after consulting with Shai's acting director Reuven Shiloah, resolves to establish three intelligence organizations instead of Shai - Military Intelligence (MI) (AMAN), attached to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) General Staff; a domestic secret service, later known as the Israeli Security Agency (ISA) (Also GSS- General Security Service; In Hebrew "Sherut Bitachon" - Security Service and later, "Sherut Bitachon Qlali - General Security Service) and a foreign intelligence service. The first two are initially subordinate to the IDF; the foreign intelligence service is intended to be subordinate to the Minister of Defense (Ben Gurion) until the end of Israel's War of Independence.|
|June 29||Meir Tobianski is executed by firing squad following a field court-martial conducted by Shai members and presided over by Isser Be'eri. The charge is treason, based on circumstantial evidence. Tobianski is later cleared of espionage charges.|
|June 30||Shai is formally dismantled. 'Heker II, an ultrasecret unit, is set up in the Political Department of the Israeli Foreign Ministry. Its missions are sabotage and propaganda behind enemy lines. Chaim Herzog is appointed head of AMAN (military intelligence) (head of AMAN), until 1950. AMAN is assigned the responsibility for combat intelligence, operations security and counterespionage, listening, and censorship.|
|July||The SIGINT unit moves into the Tsahalon building in Jaffa.|
|July 22||Changes are made in the structure of the operations section of the IDF and intelligence. Functions formerly belonging to Shai are to merge into the Military Intelligence Service, under the IDF Operations Branch. The new body is to encompass the combat intelligence, censorship, and operations sections and will be headed by Be'eri. The head of the combat intelligence section is to be Binyamin Gibli.|
|July 30||MI is created under the IDF General Staff branch. Eventually this service is to become the Department of Intelligence.|
|Aug. 1||Under Order 48/25, the Intelligence Service comes into force.|
|Aug. 20||The first regulations of the Intelligence Service, drawn up by Herzog and Be'eri, are approved.|
|Sept. 22||Yigael Yadin, head of Operations Branch, defines the division of authority between MI and the Political Department of the Foreign Ministry.|
|Oct.||The offices of the Shai, headed by Be'eri, are transferred to the Green House in Jaffa.|
|March 24, 1949||The original order creating the Intelligence Service is replaced by a new order prepared by Herzog; the Department of Intelligence in the General Staff is divided into branches called Military Intelligence Service (IS) with a number appended.|
|April||A supreme committee for intelligence work is formed and chaired by Shiloah; later it is titled the Committee of Directors of the Intelligence Services, known by the Hebrew acronym VARASH. On the establishment of this committee, operation Magic Carpet for secret airlifting of Yemenite Jews to Israel begins; when it ended in Sept. 1950 it had brought about 45,000 out Yemenite Jews to Israel.|
|May 2||Ya'acov Buqa'i, disguised as an Arab en route to Syria on a spying mission, is caught by the Jordanian authorities.|
|July||Shiloah proposes the creation of a central institution to enhance coordination and cooperation among the intelligence services.|
|Aug. 3||Buqa'i is tried and hanged in Amman.|
|Oct.||Isser Be'eri is tried for his part in the execution of Meir Tobianski. The court decides to discharge Be'eri from the military service.|
|Dec. 13||Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion authorizes establishment of the "Institute [Mossad] for Co-ordination" to oversee the Political Department of the Foreign Ministry and to coordinate internal security and military intelligence bodies. This is the birth date of the Mossad, then attached to the Foreign Ministry. Reuven Shiloah is appointed the Mossad's first director.|
|1950||Operation Ezra and Nehemia is launched, whereby almost all Iraqi Jews are brought to Israel, first via Cyprus then directly; the operation continues until early 1952.|
|April||Binyamin Gibli is made head of AMAN (military intelligence) with promotion to colonel. He mainly develops apparatus for intelligence gathering.|
|July||Yehoshafat Harkabi is appointed Gibli's deputy and boosts intelligence analysis.|
|1951||Ben-Gurion authorizes the final reorganization of the Mossad, making it an independent, centralized authority, capable of handling all overseas intelligence tasks. According to the proposal, which in the end does not materialize, the Mossad is supposed to be called the "Authority." It is meant to include representatives of the other two services, MI and the domestic security service. The Mossad then departs from the Foreign Ministry and reports directly to the prime minister, thus becoming part of the Prime Minister's Office. Major Max Binnet is assigned to an espionage mission in Egypt.|
|March||Creation of Nativ, an intelligence organization responsible for Israel's connection with the Jews of the USSR and Eastern Europe and for immigration to Israel from those countries.|
|April 1||The so-called Spies' Revolt erupts, sparked by the transfer of intelligence functions from the Foreign Ministry to the Mossad; the revolt is led by Asher Ben-Natan.|
|May||In Egypt, Major Avraham Dar recruits young Jews for an espionage network.|
|1952||Avraham (Avri) El-Ad is recruited by MI's Unit 131 to command the Jewish espionage network in Egypt; later he betrays its members.|
|Sept. 20||Shiloah resigns from the Mossad directorship, and Isser Harel, until then director of the ISA, is appointed to the post. Izi Doroth replaces Harel as the ISA director.|
|1953||Amos Manor is appointed ISA director.|
|Dec.||Official title of Military Intelligence (MI) is changed from the Department of Intelligence to Directorate of Intelligence in the General Staff of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), raising its status in the IDF hierarchy.|
|July 2, 1954||Beginning of the Lavon affair. Members of a Jewish espionage network in Egypt begin Operation Susannah by planting small firebombs in several mailboxes in Alexandria. A series of sabotage acts, directed primarily against Western embassies and other institutions, is planned, attempting to prevent the British evacuation from Egypt.|
|July 14||In its second operation, the network in Egypt firebombs the American libraries in Cairo and Alexandria.|
|July 23||In the failed third operation of the spy network in Egypt, a member is caught when a device starts to catch fire while he is waiting on line at a movie theatre. Members of the group are caught.|
|July 26||First publication on the capture of the Susannah network in the Arabic press. Toward the end of the month, a furor erupts in Israel as to who gave the order to set up the network in Egypt in the so called Lavon Affair, also known as the Shameful Business ("esek bish").|
|Dec. 11||The trial of the Jewish espionage network members begins in an Egyptian court.|
|1955||The Misgeret (Framework), a subunit of the Mossad, is established as a special force in North Africa to protect Jewish populations, mainly in Algeria but also in Tunisia. Harkabi, promoted to major general, becomes head of AMAN (military intelligence); he serves in this position until 1959.|
|Jan.||Egyptian court convicts and sentences the Lavon Affair conspirators. Penalties ranged from seven years imprisonment to execution. Dr. Moshe Marzouk and Shmuel Becor Azzar, members of the network, are sentenced to death and hanged.|
|Sept. 27||Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser announces a new arms deal between Egypt and Czechoslovakia. Actually, the arms come from the USSR, but the Cairo CIA attache advises Nasser that it is better to call it a "Czech" arms deal. This deal and the concern it creates contribute to the formation of a research department in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), with technical and international sections.|
|Feb. 1956||Through a friendly member of the Soviet politburo, the Mossad succeeds in obtaining a copy of Nikita Khrushchev's "destalinization" speech denouncing the policies of his late predecessor, Joseph Stalin. Khrushchev condemns Stalin's personality cult and apparent support for the concept of individuality. Israel delivers Khrushchev's speech to the United States, which publishes it to expose the Soviet regime. This is a major intelligence coup that raises the reputation of the Mossad.|
|July 11||Colonel Mustafa Hafez, head of Egyptian intelligence in the Gaza Strip and in charge of activating killer and sabotage squads of fedayeen in the 1950s, is assassinated by Israeli intelligence by means of an explosive envelope. The same day, the Egyptian military attaché in Amman, Jordan, Major Salah Mustafa, receives a similar explosive envelope. In the explosion, both his hands are blown off; he dies a week later.|
|Sept.||Following the ban imposed on emigration of Jews from North Africa to Israel, the Mossad forms another type of Misgeret in North Africa for smuggling Jews out of Morocco to Israel, sometimes with false papers and no travel documents and sometimes by bribing Moroccan officials for authentic passports.|
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