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Carmi Gillon

Former Shin Bet Head Carmi Gillon: How Sony could have been saved from Cyber Attacks and Why Israel Should to Get Rid of Occupied Territories As Soon As Possible”

*Gillon was head of Shin Bet when Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated in 1995

By Rhonda Spivak, January 20, 2015




Carmi Gillon, the former head of the Shin Bet (Israel’s Internal General Security Service) from 1994 – 1996 was in Winnipeg and spoke for the Winnipeg Chapter of Canadian Friends of the Hebrew University on Thursday, January 15th.


A few days before arriving in Winnipeg, Gillon told Bloomberg News that he ascribes to Shimon Peres’s policy that Israel “needs to fight terrorism as if there is no political process and to continue the political process as if there is no terrorism.” He also told Bloomberg News that “Israel needs to get rid of the occupied territories as soon as possible.”



Gillon, who is now the Executive Chairman of an Israeli start up company CYTEGIC which provides companies with security against cyber attacks, spoke on a conference call sponsored by the Canadian Friends of the Hebrew University and the Vancouver Chapter of the Jewish National Fund on Tuesday, January 13th. The Winnipeg Jewish Review participated in this conference call where Gillon spoke on the topic “The Global Threats of Cyber Security” and his remarks from this call are reported below.


Gillon, who was the former head of the Shin Bet when Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin was assassinated in 1995 resigned from command of the Shin Bet in its aftermath. He spoke about Sony Pictures Entertainment whose computers were attacked by “cyber criminals who stole their ID and assets.” As a result of the security breach unreleased films were made available on the internet and other private matters were let out. President Obama “kind of declared war on North Korea” in the wake of what he said was a destructive and coercive cyber attack on Sony, but North Korea denied involvement. Obama announced sanctions that target North Korea’s primary intelligence organizations and individuals as agencies or officials of the North Korean government. Gillon said this type of cyber attack can be very very serious since “both the U.S. and North Korea are nuclear.”


Gillon, who served as Director-General of the Peres Centre for Peace (2000 – 2001), and was also Israel’s Ambassador to Denmark (2001 – 2003), laid out how CYTEGIC evaluates cyber risks for companies in real time to enable them to protect their assets from being stolen from cyber criminals. As he explained, his company “gathers intelligence and provides analysis” and “we try to predict what will be the future (cyber) attacks in countries and on private property.” CYTEGIC does this by giving specific alerts to organizations in real time on their dashboards, indicating when there are attacks concerning their companies. As Gillon stressed in his interview with Bloomberg News, it is important for the CEO and Board of Directors of a given company to be involved in cyber security so that they can prioritize which of a given company’s assets are to be protected and how much to invest in protecting them.


During the conference call Gillon, who appeared in the documentary “The Gatekeepers” spoke of the fact that “the new threats to freedom of citizens of the world” is in “the realm of cyber security.”


Regarding Israel’s security, Gillon said that in the 1990’s it had faced the threat of suicide bombers, which “was stopped mostly because of the (security) fence Israel erected,” He continued by saying “that as a result of that Hamas turned to focusing on launching rockets.” “So the Israeli solution was the Iron Dome,” Gillon said, adding that in response, “Now Hamas moved to dig tunnels.”


Now “Israel will have to be ready to ward of cyber security threats,” he said.


“The target of a terrorist is not only to kill people but to sabotage normal life of a free country,” Gillon noted. For example if you have a suicide bomber on a bus, normal life is sabotaged “as no one wants to take the bus.”


Gillon, is the former Vice President of External Relations for the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, stressed that in the case of cyber attacks “I (the terrorist) do not need to be in the country I am attacking. I can stop the lights in the streets and cause a traffic jam, or attack (a country’s) cell phone system.” A prospective terrorist will learn that he can be very “useful if he becomes a hacker” in a country such as the United Kingdom.


He added, “it’s easier to make a transaction through your cell phone (as opposed to going somewhere in person to make the transaction), but every time you or the person next to you gets into your bank database, it means a threat to your security.”


As a result, Gillon, who referred to how he enjoys working with “great young minds in Israel” in his new start up company, stressed that the Western world needs to make sure that institutions and companies take enough precautions to protect your privacy.


According to Gillon, one issue at play is “whether states will be allowed to supervise the way companies protect their properties.” In his view, each country will “need to implement laws or regulations” that will regulate how private companies will need to protect personal security and privacy,” (the same way how the government regulates how banks are run).


Just over a year ago Gillon explained why he advocated for a two state solution on an International Focus program, and, indicating that time was running out. (This interview can be found here: In this interview Gillon said: “We only have ten years left.” He explained that within ten years, the United States will be able to produce oil and “the US will be independent of Gulf oil: and accordingly “it won’t have an interest in the (Middle East) region,” such that a US brokered peace agreement will not occur. As he said, “two new states, Russia and China” will have interests in the region in ten years, not the US, and “its allies are worried about that.” Gillon referred to the fact that when the US didn’t fund Egypt with 250 million dollars, “Saudi Arabia sent a cheque” and “Putin was on his way to Egypt.” He indicted at the time over a year ago as US Secretary of State John Kerry was trying to advance the peace process that it would require real leadership on both the Israeli and Palestinian sides to come to a settlement, and that in regard to the Palestinian “right of return”, this could only be symbolic as the Palestinians could not come back and overrun the Jewish state.


On the conference call, Gillon said that “Iraq doesn’t exist anymore” since “it is in chaos” and “I believe Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Countries will be next for a revolution.”


On the subject of Radical Islam, Gillon noted that Islamic extremists are not only out to kill Jews, but are also targeting “democratic, liberal, Western values.”


He said he used to joke with his Christian friends, that “once they kill the Saturday people (Jews), then they’ll kill the Sunday people (Christians).”


Gillon also spoke of the religious intra-Muslim war between Sunni and Shia Muslims. “The Middle East will be divided between Shia Muslims headed by Iran and Sunni Muslims headed by Saudi Arabia after the time of the kingdom.”


Gillon indicated he wasn’t sure who would have hegemony between the Sunni and Shia. “Some say that since Iran will be nuclear, then the Shia will be number one,” Gillon noted.


Gillon said that if “we want to keep some normal people” in the region, we (the West) must support Egypt and Jordan. “They are still Western oriented.”


Gillon was recruited by the Shin Bet after obtaining his B.A. in political science from the Hebrew University. He graduated from the National Defense College. Gillon has an M.A. in public policy from the University of Haifa. He is also a graduate of the advanced management training at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. He comes from an aristocratic Israeli family. His grandfather was the only Jewish justice to serve on the Supreme Court of the British Mandate of Palestine, his father was a State Attorney, and his mother was Deputy Attorney General.


*Editor’s note: The website of the Gatekeepers says that Gillon was “one of the people least prepared to head the Shin Bet, and his brief tenure was marked by its greatest debacle – its failure to protect Prime Minister Rabin from an assassin’s bullet.” It also says “ironically, this enormous failure was followed by one of Gillon’s greatest successes.” In January 1996, the Shin Bet assassinated “The Engineer”, Yahya Ayyash, a Palestinian terrorist who had masterminded some of the bloodiest attacks on Israeli civilians in recent memory. (



If there had been more time on the conference call I would have liked to ask Gillon more about the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin which took place on November 4, 1995 at the end of a rally in support of the Oslo Accords at the Kings of Israel Square in Tel-Aviv. The Shamgar commission which was set up following the assassination determined that the assassination was made possible as a result of security failures at the scene (i.e., lack of coordination between various bodies responsible for security, non-adherence to instructions and procedures, all of which lead to a lax security ring. It was critical of the Shin Bet, headed by Gillon, for exposing the Prime Minister to “serious risks”, and for failing to act on threats to the Prime Minister’s life by Jewish extremists.I would have liked to have asked Gillon the following:


1. As the head of Shin Bet, you ran a unit which created AYAL, to infiltrate the protests against the Oslo Accord. Among the members of AYAL was Avishai Raviv, who while posing as a right-wing radical was really working for the Shin Bet. Yigal Amir became friendly with Avishai Raviv. One of the acts of AYAL was to distribute pictures of Rabin in an SS Uniform as if the Oslo protesters made up the signs. In hindsight, what is your perspective of AYAL?

2. Raviv was brought to trial in 2000 for not preventing Rabin’s assassination. Raviv mounted a successful defense on the grounds that he had just been doing his job and events had spun out of control. I would have liked to ask Gillon if he knows where Avishai Raviv is now.

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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

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