Netanyahu and Rivlin giving Mossad prizes
Netanyahu and Rivlin giving Mossad prizes Haim Zach/GPO

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin took part in a ceremony Thursday night commemorating 65 years since the Mossad secret intelligence service was created, and handing out awards to brave agents defending their nation.

In the ceremony, which began with a Hanukkah candle lighting for the holiday, Netanyahu, Rivlin and Mossad Director Tamir Pardo gave out twelve awards of excellence to Mossad agents, and two Lifetime Achievement Awards, with former Mossad directors taking part in the proceedings.

Among those awarded was a young female agent in her 20s who operated deep in enemy territory under life-threatening conditions, who only joined the Mossad several years ago. Her complex assignments were critical to Mossad's secret operation, and she was honored as a role model for the young generation of fighters.

Also recognized was a technology expert who developed new technological operational capabilities to be used on Mossad missions, and provided a solution to one of the most important and central projects the Mossad is working on.

Additional awards were given to a fighter who led a team in a complex operation in enemy territory, an officer who participated in one of the most important and sensitive operations to the state of Israel, and a serviceman who was stationed in three missions in unique and complex regions, among others.

The two Lifetime Achievement awards were given to an agent born in Iran who served for 20 years, and a second who worked for 30 years in various operational support positions.

"Intelligence agencies around the world are proud of their expert operatives, who work 'like machines.' People trained to complete every mission, every objective and every target, at times cruelly and without defined limits. We’re proud that the Mossad is made up of people – human beings. Fighters whose strive for perfection, and bravery, operating with responsibility and judiciousness," said Rivlin.

Rivlin went on to say Mossad agents are armed with "their ability to differentiate between victim and aggressor, between innocent and guilty, between acceptable and unacceptable. Fighters who don’t have an appetite for war or feelings of revenge. ...Only with this ethical compass can wars be waged and won."

Netanyahu addressed the ceremony and said "I would like to thank here all the servicewomen and men of the shadows, from every generation for the Mossad’s excellence, responsibility and courage. The threats around us are multiplying and spreading across the world, though your work is also being done across the world; our enemies are crossing ethical boundaries, and your work is crossing the borders of the imagination."

"You do things that if a producer of sci-fi films wanted to reproduce on screen, they would not be able to even imagine what you’re doing – and these are very important for the state of Israel," continued Netanyahu.

Mossad head Pardo said "the strength of every agency is derived from its ability to understand the challenges of tomorrow are different than the challenges of yesterday. We constantly have to change and adapt ourselves to new realities, to more sophisticated enemies and challenges, to new objectives and unknowns."

"This year’s outstanding servicemen and women represent the wide range of the Mossad’s activities - operational, intelligence, logistical and technological. This complicated machine must operate at the highest level, smoothly and together. The strength of this chain is dependent on the strength of its links. All the links of the Mossad are strong and durable," added Pardo.

"I would like to thank you, selected servicemen of 2014, and to show you my appreciation for your work, not only in the past year but throughout your service in the Mossad. You are a source of pride and inspiration for the entire agency. A special thanks to you - family members, who have made it possible and supported them, patiently, with understanding and love. Happy holidays to everyone," concluded the Mossad chief.

Binyamin Netanyahu lights the Hanukkah candles at Mossad award ceremony Haim Zach/GPO

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