Mossad Director David Barnea with the son of Zvi Zamir
Mossad Director David Barnea with the son of Zvi ZamirCourtesy

The Mossad held an event marking 50 years since the Yom Kippur War on Thursday at the agency's headquarters. Among those in attendance were Mossad Director David Barnea, the senior command forum, and agency personnel.

The event opened with a minute of silence in memory of the late Shabtai Shavit, the seventh Director of the Mossad, who passed away earlier this week. Interviews with Shavit were shown, providing a rare glimpse at the contribution of the Mossad before and during the war from his personal perspective.

In his remarks, Mossad Director Barnea referred to the significance and the lessons that were derived from the war, and they are also relevant for our time. He emphasized the importance of dealing with the existential challenges facing the State of Israel: "We must not shirk from dealing with the existential threat facing the State of Israel. The victory in 1967 seemingly removed all doubt as to our ability to continue existing forever. Today we know what our purpose is. Our strategic focus revolves around an existential threat that we will deal with and which we will invest in. We must not make light of the enemy and his capabilities. We must not forget that around us are countries and organizations that are continuing to strengthen in order to threaten our peace here. We must not exaggerate the support of our allies in times of crisis; we will build up our strength and our capabilities. We must not downplay the importance of unity in order to survive. Our strength is in our internal unity."

Mossad Director Barnea also referred to the concept to which the State of Israel was beholden, including the intelligence and security community on the eve of the war, and how the lessons of the war have affected, and continue to affect, the intelligence and operational activity of the Mossad until today: "We must not fall into a concept. Even today, we feel the strength, the intelligence depth, and the powerful capabilities – the order of the day is for humility in intelligence and skepticism."

With 50 years having passed since the war, the Mossad has decided – for the first time – to publish a book containing unique and historical research. The title of the book was taken from the remarks of the late Golda Meir to Mossad Director Zvi Tomer: "When it will be permitted to talk, you and your colleagues will receive a prize," after she was briefed on the considerable intelligence that the Mossad gathered about Sadat's strategy ahead of the war and the strengthening of the Arab militaries before the war with Israel.

The book reveals much information that was provided by the excellent original intelligence sources operated by Mossad in the years before the war, especially the strategic intelligence source codenamed "the Angel." Mossad Director Barnea referred to the claims that have been raised to the effect that the Angel was a double agent: "These claims were checked in their time, with all due seriousness, before the war by an IDF-Mossad joint team, and after the war as well. The conclusions were the same: The Angel was an important and strategic agent. Whoever does not understand humint (human intelligence) will find it difficult to understand the nuances of an agent and his handler."

As is known, the Angel gave a warning regarding the war. As soon as it broke out, both during and afterward, Mossad Director Zamir played a central role in presenting and analyzing the intelligence picture for the political leadership. At the same time, the Mossad continued to provide quality intelligence that deeply affected the course of the war and the negotiations on its conclusion.

In Mossad Director Barnea's words about Zamir: "Zamir led the Mossad during that war as an intelligence strategist. His role caused a change. Which continued for years in the position of the Mossad in the intelligence community: From being responsible only for collection, the Mossad has become a central actor responsible for the complete intelligence circle."

In conclusion, Mossad Director Barnea referred to the agency's strategy and focus while looking forward to the operational, intelligence, technological, and human spheres.

During the event, certificates of appreciation were awarded to former Mossad directors Zvi Zamir and Efraim Halevy, as well as to Mossad retirees: Zvi Zamir's personal assistant Freddy Eini; Shmulik Goren, who was Head of the Mossad Europe Desk in the Zomet¬ branch during the war; and the Angel's handler Dubi. The certificate of appreciation that was awarded to Zvi Zamir was given by Mossad Director Barnea to his son Prof. Danny Zamir, who accepted it with great emotion.