The Mossad, Israel’s foreign intelligence agency, on Thursday announced the appointment of two women to key positions; the head of its intelligence operations and the head of the Iran portfolio, “the organization's main area of activity.”
The new head of intelligence operations, who can only be identified by her first initial, A., rose through the ranks of the agency, serving in a variety of intelligence posts over roughly the past 20 years.
In her new position, she will be responsible for developing a strategic intelligence outlook for Israel on a number of issues, including the Iranian nuclear program, global terrorism and normalization of ties with the Arab world.
Her division is also responsible for intelligence related to all of the Mossad's operations. Its staff numbers in the hundreds, employed in intelligence gathering as well as analysis and research.
In an unprecedented development, with A.'s appointment, both the director of the division and her deputy are women. The division is considered a mainstay and an area of growth at the Mossad.
The second appointment is a woman who can only be identified as K., as the new head of the Mossad's Iran operations.
She will be responsible for Mossad strategy in dealing with the threats posed by Iran in all their forms, including combined efforts involving operations, technology and intelligence, together with the Israel Defense Forces and other Israeli security agencies. K., who also rose through the ranks of the Mossad's intelligence division, will now be filling one of the most important and influential positions at the agency.
Israel has increased the pace of its attacks on Iranian nuclear sites and scientists in recent months. The cyberwar between Israel and Iran also seems to have moved up a notch.
In June, a senior member of Iran's Revolutionary Guards' Quds Force, Sayyad Khodaei, was assassinated on in front of his home in Tehran, and other reported assassinations of military figures and scientists involved in weapons programs followed. Khodaei was likely behind a series of plots against Israeli businesspeople and diplomats in various countries this year.
This summer, Iran arrested what it said was a network of three Mossad-linked agents that was planning to assassinate scientists involved in the country's nuclear program.
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In a statement on the appointment of the women, Mossad director David Barnea highlighted the agency's commitment to gender equality and noted that a large number of women serve in a range of positions.
“From the moment they enter the gates of the organization, there is full equality between women and men,” he said, noting that “many women serve in all operational positions” and that “the door to progress up to the highest levels of command is open to both women and men, according to their suitability and skills.”
“It is important for the Mossad as a security body, which stands at the forefront of action for the security of the state, to convey a message to women about the unlimited scope of possibilities open to them in the organization, and to be an example to other security organizations regarding the integration of women in key positions,” Branea added.
Among the Mossad's leadership in senior command positions, four are now women. About 30 years ago, it should be noted, a woman, Aliza Magen, served as deputy director of the agency.