Netanyahu announces new Mossad chief, agency veteran who handled overseas spies

David Barnea, 56, is currently the deputy chief and a long-time veteran of the intelligence agency.

By Benjamin Kerstein, The Algemeiner

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday announced his choice for the next head of Israel’s Mossad foreign intelligence agency, Channel 13 reported.

Netanyahu’s choice is David Barnea, 56, the deputy chief and a long-time veteran of the intelligence agency. He will take over from current head Yossi Cohen, whose tenure has largely been seen as a success, with several widely publicized intelligence operations against Iran.

Barnea served in the IDF’s special forces unit Sayeret Matkal, received an MA in business administration from New York University, and has worked in the financial sector.

He was recruited to the Mossad in 1996 and rose through the ranks, eventually leading several of the agency’s operations both in Israel and overseas. From 2013-2019, he presided over the Mossad’s Tzomet Division, the section responsible for recruiting and handling agents around the globe that won four Israel Defense Prizes during his tenure.

Cohen issued a statement saying that he is “convinced that the incoming head of the Mossad will be very successful, and will continue to lead the Mossad to operational successes and meaningful achievements.”

Barnea’s appointment was approved earlier Thursday by Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, who had previously said that since Netanyahu was leading a caretaker government in an election season, the appointment should not go forward.

Mandelblit eventually relented, concluding that there is no legal impediment to Barnea’s permanent appointment.