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Avi Dichter
Avi Dichter-Kadima.jpg
Date of birth 4 December 1952 (1952-12-04) (age 57)
Place of birth Ashkelon, Israel
Knessets 17th, 18th
Party Kadima
Ministerial posts
(current in bold)
Minister of Internal Security

Avi Dichter (Hebrew: אבי דיכטר‎, born 4 December 1952) is an Israeli politician who currently serves as a member of the Knesset for Kadima. He is a former Minister of Internal Security.



Born in Ashkelon, Dichter's parents were Holocaust survivors. As an adolescent, he joined Hashomer Hatzair, the oldest Zionist youth movement still functioning. After graduating high school (where he met his wife Ilana, with whom he has three children), Dichter was selected to serve in the elite unit of the Israel Defense Forces, Sayeret Matkal, under then Commander Ehud Barak. Upon completing his military service, Dichter joined Shin Bet, Israel's internal security service, in 1974 where he advanced to eventually become its Director in 2000.

He began his career in Shin Bet as a sky marshal for El Al. After becoming proficient in Arabic and completing field intelligence courses, he began working in the Shin Bet's Southern District—specifically in the Gaza Strip. In 1986 he gained a BA in Social Science from Bar-Ilan University. In 1992, he was appointed as Director for the region. The targeted assassination of Hamas operative Yahya Ayyash—known as "The Engineer"—took place under Dichter's leadership. The assassination of the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995 shed light on Shin Bet's shortcomings. Aiming to improve the Shin Bet's protection capabilities, Dichter was appointed Director of the Security and Protection Division. In 1999, he became Deputy Director of Shin Bet, and gained an Executive MBA from Tel Aviv University. One year later, Prime Minister Ehud Barak promoted Dichter to Director.

During his tenure as Director, the Palestinians launched one of their most deadly campaigns, the al-Aqsa Intifada. Under Dichter's leadership, Shin Bet changed its modus operandi and restructured its mission and duties to serve at the forefront of Israel's security and counter-terrorism efforts. The organization spearheaded counter-insurgency and intelligence operations deep inside the West Bank and Gaza Strip. In doing so, the Shin Bet is credited with drastically reducing the number of attacks perpetrated against Israel during this time as well as helping to restore safety and positive morale to the public. Another one of Dichter's successful initiatives included envisioning and planning with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon the controversial West Bank barrier.


Political career

In September 2005, Dichter left office and became a research fellow at the Brookings Institute in Washington, D.C. Several months later, he returned to Israel and announced his foray into politics with the newly-established Kadima. He was elected to the Knesset on the party's list in 2006, and on 4 May that year was sworn in as the Minister of Internal Security. In this role, he oversees Israel's law enforcement system including Israel's Police Force and Prison Service.

As Minister of Public Security, Dichter has made several reforms in the fields under the auspices of the ministry. These include budgetary and organizational reform, the building of a Witness Protection Program, and the formation of a national crime fighting unit (Lahav 433) similar to the United States' FBI. In 2007 Dichter canceled a trip to the UK over concerns that he would be arrested for war crimes[1] in relation with the killing of wife and three children of then Hamas's military leader Salah Shehade.

After Ehud Olmert resigned as party leader, Dichter entered the leadership election. However, he came fourth with only 6.5% of the vote.[2] He retained his seat in the 2009 elections after being placed ninth on the party's list, but lost his cabinet portfolio as the Likud-led coalition formed the government.


In Matar v. Dichter, the Center for Constitutional Rights filed a federal class action lawsuit against Dichter on behalf of the Palestinians killed or injured in a 2002 "targeted assassination" air strike in Gaza. It charged him with extrajudicial killing, war crimes and other gross human rights violations. On April 16, 2009, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the case against Dichter, on the basis that Dichter possesses immunity under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA).[3]


External links


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