Shin Bet Head Ami Ayalon Born
Ami Ayalon (Center). Photo: Ami Ayalon/Sony Pictures Classics

June 27, 1945

Ami Ayalon, who leads the Shin Bet and the Israeli navy, is born in Tiberias.

He serves in the navy from 1963 to 1996. He volunteers for the Shayetet 13 commando unit, which he commands for a time beginning in 1979. While serving with Shayetet 13 in 1969, he takes part in the assault on Egypt’s fortified Green Island. Despite being hit by a bullet ricochet and twice being wounded by grenades, Ayalon helps capture several keep positions and keeps fighting until the island is under Israeli control. He is awarded the Medal of Valor, Israel’s highest military decoration, for his actions in the battle.

He is promoted to major general and named the navy’s commander in chief in 1992. He remains in the position until 1996, when he is made the head of Israel’s internal security service, the Shin Bet, in the aftermath of the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in November 1995. He retires in 2000. From 2001 to 2005, he serves as the chairman of irrigation company Netafim.

As a private citizen and former Shin Bet head, Ayalon becomes active in the peace movement, promoting a two-state solution without a right for Palestinian refugees to return to former homes in Israel. He serves one term in the Knesset, from 2006 to 2009, as part of the Labor Party and spends more than a year in the Cabinet as a minister without portfolio. He loses a bid for the Labor leadership in 2007.

He has a bachelor’s in economics and political science from Bar-Ilan University and a master’s in public administration from Harvard University.