Prime minister Ehud Olmert this week picked the next director of the Mossad, Israel’s celebrated external intelligence service. He is deputy chief of staff, Maj. Gen. Moshe Kaplinksy. He will take over from Maj. Gen. (res.) Meir Dagan, who has filled the post for six years since his appointment by then prime minister Ariel Sharon.
Kaplinsky, 50, born in Israel, took an advanced infantry officers’ course in the United States. He graduated from Bar Ilan University with a bachelor’s degree in economics and business administration and went on to a postgraduate course at Tel Aviv University.
In 1976, Kaplinsky was drafted to the Golani Brigade and for the next 17 years worked his way up through the ranks to brigade commander in 1993. He served subsequently as division commander, was promoted to major general in 2001 and appointed military secretary to Sharon.
In August 2002, Kaplinsky was raised to OC Central Command and given the mission to finish the task the Israeli armed forces had begun with the Defense Shield Operation in Jenin and crush the Palestinian terror war launched by Yasser Arafat in 2000.
His mission was successful. From 2003 the tempo of suicide bombings tapered off and, by early 2005, had been reduced to an isolated attack every few months.
Shooting attacks on the highways of the West Bank were also cut down drastically thanks to Kaplinsky’s counter-terror tactics and the numerous captures of wanted terrorists by the army and the Shin Bet. This method is employed up until the present.
He is credited with achieving success with such tactics as maintaining a massive IDF presence on the West Bank, a network of manned roadblocks, the fragmentation of broad terrorist structures into small networks scattered in enclaves and building the defense barrier, which holds back bomb vehicles from storming into Israel.
Kaplinsky was promoted to deputy chief of staff under Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz on March 17, 2005. That was the post he held during the 2006 Lebanon War. All parts of Israel’s political, military and intelligence leadership came out of that conflict with damaged reputations.
The extent of the damage is manifested by the new chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Gaby Ashkenazi, who replaced Gen. Halutz, letting Kaplinsky go without demur, despite his outstanding performance as the strategist who suppressed Palestinian terror. Ashkenazi prefers a general untainted by the Lebanon conflict’s shortcomings to assist him in the armed forces’ post-war rehabilitation.
The incoming Mossad chief is due to take over in mid-2008. Until then, he will take leave of absence for studies in the United States, Israeli parlance for a period to get acquainted with the workings of US intelligence services with whom he will collaborate in his new post. At least one of the two senior deputy chiefs of Israel’s external intelligence service is expected to resign over his appointment.