Several weeks ago, I reported here that Bibi Netanyahu had settled upon a candidate to succeed Yuval Diskin as Shabak chief. While Israeli news sources could and still cannot report his name (they call him “Y.”), I did: Yitzhak Ilan. Today, Channel 1‘s military correspondents, Yoav Limor confirms that Bibi shortly will name Ilan to the job.
Ilan began his career fighting the Russian mob and then moved into dealing with what’s known in Hebrew as the “Arab sector.” There are several things that are groundbreaking (for Israel) about the director-designate: he will be the first non-Ashkenazi in the job. Ilan is of Georgian descent. He is the first director to rise through the ranks as an interrogator, to the top job. Most previous directors ran Arab spies in the field. Limor concluded his report by calling Ilan an “excellent chess-player.”
That remains to be seen. Since Ilan will be taking on a significant role in the national security machinery, it’s worth quoting what I wrote about his checkered past:
Ilan, as then-director of the Jewish terror unit, was responsible for the [miserable failure of the] Jack Teitel investigation. Teitel is the American Jewish terrorist implicated in multiple anti-Palestinian acts of violence and murders who engaged in his crime spree over a decade or more. The final straw was the bomb Teitel exploded at the home of Hebrew University Prof. Zeev Sternhell, which wounded him. The Shabak finally caught him tacking up flyers on a Jerusalem street which bragged about the bombing…
Ilan is a veteran of the Shabak who has filled many senior roles including chief of investigations and was thought, until the sex scandal, to be likely to retire form the service.
The question really is will anything be different? Will Ilan merely pursue the same objectives with the same brutality as his predecessor? The answer is likely to be Yes. The only way the Shabak will transform itself is when the State it serves demands that it do so. The State of Israel gets the secret police it demands. And the Shabak and operatives like Ilan are only too happy to accommodate it.
I will shortly have access to an exclusive piece of graphic documentation concerning Ilan which I can’t yet share.