Former Shin Bet director Avraham Shalom died on Thursday at age 86.
Shalom headed Israel's security service from 1980 to 1986, including during the first Lebanon War. He was forced to resign from his post in wake of the "Bus 300" affair, which involved a cover-up of the summary execution of two bus hijackers, and was one of 11 individuals who were subsequently pardoned by President Chaim Herzog.
Shalom was born in 1928 in Vienna as an only child. His father was an industrialist and his mother a piano teacher. His family fled Austria in 1939 to Palestine.
He recruited into the Shin Bet in 1950 by Rafi Eitan, appointed commander of the organization’s operations unit in Jerusalem in 1952, loaned to the Mossad between 1954-1957, and afterward became head of the Shin Bet operations unit. In 1972, following the massacre of Israeli athletes in Munich, he was appointed head of the Shin Bet protection unit.
Shalom was part of the team that tracked and abducted Adolf Eichmann in Argentina in 1960 and brought him to Israel to stand on trial.
Shalom became head of the Shin Bet in 1980. He resigned in 1986, after the Bus 300 affair. The No. 300 bus was hijacked by two Palestinians on its way from Tel Aviv to Ashkelon in April 1984. The Shin Bet, which was able to capture the hijackers in a joint operation with the military, reported that the two were killed at the scene, but later, thanks to a photograph by Alex Levac published in the now-defunct daily Hadashot, it emerged that the two had already been apprehended when they were killed.
The fiasco ended when many of those involved in the incident were pardoned by President Herzog before they were charged.
Shalom was among six former Shin Bet heads to appear in the documentary "The Gatekeepers" by director Dror Moreh. The film was nominated for the Best Documentary Feature at the 85th Academy Awards.
Shalom was also one of the founders of the Geneva Initiative - a group of Israelis and Palestinians that released an unofficial proposal for a peace deal between the two peoples. The group issued a statement expressing sorrow over Shalom's death.
In 2010, when asked on whether Israel should free Palestinian prisoners in order to free IDF soldier Gilad Shlit, Shalom told Haaretz: “They want 900 [prisoners], I would give 900 and another 1,000, including all the famous names, Abu this and Abu that, including [Marwan] Barghouti, without any problems − he is someone who needs to grow politically − this on condition that your strategy is to make peace.”
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