The Shin Bet security service is in the midst of a structural reorganization program that will shift responsibility for thwarting terrorism within Israel to a single unit instead of its current division between three units.
The change was decided on a few months ago by the agency’s new director, Ronen Bar, and is expected to be completed soon.
Until now, responsibility for thwarting terror inside Israel has been divided between two regional commands and a headquarters unit. The northern region handles terrorist threats from Israeli Arabs in the north as well as threats from the Lebanese border, while the southern region handles threats from Bedouin in the Negev. Meanwhile, the headquarters unit, called “Israel and foreigners,” handles Jewish terror and right-wing extremists.
When Bar took office last October, he launched an evaluation of the organization's structure. Based on its conclusions, he decided on several changes meant to streamline the agency’s approach to domestic terror threats.
A new unit dubbed “the Israeli theater” will henceforth be responsible for handling all Israeli Arab terror, in both the north and the south, as well as Jewish terror. The “Israel and foreigners” unit will switch its focus to counterespionage.
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Security sources said the changes are meant to improve the agency’s handling of terrorist threats from both Israeli Arabs and Jews by concentrating all activity under a single organizational roof. The fact that responsibility for attacks by Israeli Arabs has been divided between two regional commands until now has arguably complicated efforts to thwart domestic terror.
By contrast, sources said, the change will give the new unit a comprehensive view of terrorist threats emanating from Israelis, while remaining attentive to legal limitations and the agency’s need to exercise more restraint against Israeli citizens than it does against Palestinians in the territories, who aren’t citizens.