Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has recently begun the process of considering three candidates to replace Tamir Pardo as head of the Mossad: Ram Ben- Barak, the director-general of the Intelligence Affairs Ministry; Yossi Cohen, Netanyahu’s national security advisor; and N., the current deputy head of the Mossad.
Another name that has come up is that of the soon-to-be retired Air Force Commander Amir Eshel.
This, however, is not the only change that is to be expected in the intelligence agency. Soon, A., the current head of the Caesarea Special Operations Unit, will assume the role of deputy head of the Mossad.
The move is surprising, as A. is the third deputy Pardo has had since taking the position in January of 2011, and even more so as Pardo himself is leaving the position in a matter of months. The selection of A. to be deputy head increases his chances of becoming Mossad chief after Pardo’s replacement in 2020.
The three main candidates to replace Pardo rose within the Mossad. Rami (Ram) Ben- Barak served in the IDF’s legendary Sayeret Matkal unit, and later served in the Mossad’s Keshet Division, which is responsible for tracking, entering facilities, and information gathering.
Ben-Barak is thought to be Pardo’s protégée. In 2010, then-head Meir Dagan took him on as his deputy, and this year he was appointed the director-general of the Intelligence and Strategic Affairs Ministry by then-minister Yuval Steinitz.
The second candidate is Yossi Cohen, who served as a unit head in the new and groundbreaking Tzomet Division of Mossad, and won the Israel Security Prize for an operation he led.
Cohen later became head of Tzomet and deputy head of Mossad. In August of 2013 he was appointed by Netanyahu to the position of national security advisor, and has since become a close confidant to the prime minister.
N., the current deputy Mossad chief, also rose through the ranks in the Keshet Division, served as the head of Mossad’s Technology Division, and is seen as responsible for the organization’s increased technological advances.
As of late, another name has been floated around the Prime Minister’s Office – Amir Eshel. If the reports of Israeli strikes deep in Lebanon and Syria are true, Eshel would have led those operations while working in close cooperation with the intelligence community.