Mossad Is Established Reuven Shiloah on his way to Rhodes for armistice talks, 1949. Photo: National Photo Collection of Israel

December 13, 1949

Prime Minster David Ben-Gurion appoints Reuven Shiloah, a former Jewish Agency official and a Foreign Ministry special operations adviser, to establish and lead the Institute for Collating and Coordinating Intelligence Operations, the Israeli intelligence agency commonly known as the Mossad.

Ben-Gurion releases a statement emphasizing the importance of intelligence for Israeli to survive in the Arab world and to better understand it. Israel “since its creation has been under siege by its enemies,” he says. “Intelligence constitutes the first line of defense. … We must learn well how to recognize what is going on around us.”

Shiloah, a Jerusalem native, coordinated support for Allied war efforts among Palestine’s Jews during World War II, including the organization of a small force of Haganah paratroopers to operate behind enemy lines in Europe. He leads the Mossad until 1952.

The Mossad has maintained a crucial presence in protecting Israel against international threats. The agency reports directly to the prime minister. The Mossad collects intelligence, plans and executes counterterrorism operations, develops and maintains special foreign relations, and produces strategic intelligence. Mossad operations have ranged from tracking down Adolf Eichmann and bringing him to Israel to face justice, to assassinating terrorist leaders, to helping Jews make aliyah despite restrictions on their emigration