Israel appoints \'assassination mastermind\' as head of intelligence agency

Friday 11/03/2016
Argaman is said to have masterminded assassination of Hamas bomb expert Yahya Ayash

JERUSALEM - Israel on Monday appointed an officer said to have masterminded the assassination of a top Palestinian bombmaker as head of its Shin Bet domestic intelligence agency.

A statement from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said a committee on senior civil service appointments endorsed his nomination of current Shin Bet deputy head Nadav Argaman to the top post.

He will succeed incumbent chief Yoram Cohen, whose term ends in May, as director of the service which is Israel's equivalent of the US FBI or Britain's MI5.

Israeli news site Ynet said that Argaman "was responsible for the assassination of one of the top Gaza targets, 'the Engineer' Yahya Ayash, and as the deputy director, he led the operation to assassinate Hamas military chief Ahmed Jaabari."

Hamas bomb expert Ayash, previously known as Israel's "public enemy No.1", was killed in 1996 at his Gaza hideout by a mobile telephone rigged with explosives by Israeli agents.

Jaabari, deputy head of Hamas's military wing, the Al-Qassam Brigades, died in 2012 when an Israeli missile blew his car apart on a Gaza street.

"Nadav Argaman has extensive and proven operational and command experience," Netanyahu said in a statement last month announcing the nomination.

Argaman has also served as the Shin Bet's representative in Washington, liasing with the FBI and coordinating joint operations against "terrorism," the Jerusalem Post reported.