Harel, Isser (1912–2003)

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HAREL, ISSER (1912–2003)

Founder of Israel's intelligence community, second and most powerful head of Mossad. Born Isser Halperin in Russia, he immigrated with his family in 1931 to mandatory Palestine. During World War II he served in the Haganah and with the British coast guard. Appointed secretary of the Jewish department of the Haganah's intelligence service in 1944, he oversaw counterespionage efforts and operations against dissident Jewish underground groups such as Lohamei Herut Yisrael (LEHI). His success in these efforts led to his appointment as head of the new General Security Service (Shin Bet, or Shabak) in 1948. In 1953 he was appointed head of the Mossad, supervising all Israeli intelligence agencies. Often criticized for the extensive internal surveillance he maintained, he also developed an effective international intelligence operations network. He is credited with uncovering several Soviet spies, including Yisrael Beer, and with orchestrating the capture of Adolph Eichmann in Argentina in 1960. He left office in 1963 after a dispute with David Ben-Gurion. After a brief stint as Levi Eshkol's intelligence coordinator in 1965 and 1966, he won a seat in the eighth Knesset on the RAFI Party list.

SEE ALSO British Mandate;Haganah;Lohamei Herut Yisrael;Mossad;RAFI Party;Shin Bet.