Not above the law: Shin Bet’s (Israel Security Agency) democratization and legalization process

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Shin Bet – Israel’s internal security agency – has been active for many years in the gray areas of the law. This reality originated from the clandestine nature of Shin Bet and its missions, primarily the war against terror. However, scandals that erupted in the 1980s, in which Shin Bet high-ranking officials have knowingly broke the law and in fact placed themselves above it, have compelled the agency in particular and Israeli law and justice authorities in general to implement a fundamental revision in the legal status of Shin Bet, its regulation, and the definition of its authorities. Following this revision, a better balance has been achieved between national security needs and the values of the democracy. This article describes the democratization and legalization process Shin Bet has undergone since its foundation and the existing regulatory mechanisms aimed at ensuring that Shin Bet’s activity is executed according to law and fits Israel’s democratic values.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)54-69
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Intelligence History
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 Journal of Intelligence History.


  • Accountability and surveillance
  • Bus Line 300 Affair
  • Intelligence and security services
  • Interrogations of terror suspects
  • Israel
  • Law and legislation
  • Shin Bet
  • The Nafso Affair

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Political Science and International Relations


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