Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appointed Yossi Cohen the new chief of the Mossad, Israel’s external intelligence agency.
Cohen was National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister since August 2013. He succeeds Tamir Pardo as director of Mossad.
Cohen was born in Jerusalem to a religious family and grew up in the Katamon neighborhood. His father, Leo, was a seventh-generation Israeli and a veteran of the Irgun underground militia in the pre-state period. He worked at Bank Mizrahi, reaching a senior position there. His mother was a teacher.
Cohen served in the Mossad for 30 years, running agents in a number of countries over his career and leading the Mossad’s collections division (“Tsomet”). From 2011 to 2013, he was the deputy director, serving under Tamir Pardo. He was known publicly as “Y” (Hebrew: “י”) in this post. Cohen won the prestigious Israel Security Prize for his Mossad work.
Intelligence reporter Ronen Bergman has written that Cohen has a reputation as a tough boss, that he speaks perfect English and Arabic, and is a marathon runner.
Cohen has four children, including his son Yonatan, a former officer in the elite hacking Unit 8200, who has cerebral palsy.
Within the Mossad, Cohen is nicknamed “the Model”.