Isser Beeri

Isser Beeri

The creator and first head of Israeli military intelligence, Aman.
Country: Israel

  1. Founder and First Head of Israeli Military Intelligence Aman
  2. Work in Haganah and Shai
  3. Controversies and Aftermath
  4. Isser Be'eri passed away in January 1958 from a heart attack.

Founder and First Head of Israeli Military Intelligence Aman

Isser Be'eri was born in Poland in 1901. In 1921, he moved to Palestine where he lived and worked in a kibbutz before eventually settling in Haifa. Despite his attempts at starting a business, he faced failure and even traveled back to Poland for a period of time. However, Be'eri ultimately returned to Palestine and in 1938, he joined the underground resistance movement known as Haganah.

Work in Haganah and Shai

Be'eri served in Shai, the security service of Haganah, and by 1948, he had risen to become its head. In Shai, he earned the nickname "Big Isser" due to his height, as well as to differentiate him from "Little Isser" - Harel, who was shorter than Be'eri and also worked in Shai. By 1948, Be'eri had achieved the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.

On May 30, 1948, Be'eri held a meeting with six senior Shai leaders in Tel Aviv where he announced that, upon the orders of Israel's Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, Shai would be dissolved and replaced by four independent services: military intelligence (later known as Aman), internal security service (later known as Shin Bet or Shabak), external intelligence service (later known as Mossad), and the Institute for Aliyah-Bet (which facilitated illegal Jewish immigration to Israel).

Controversies and Aftermath

Be'eri headed the military intelligence service within this newly created framework and became a Colonel. However, his methods of work caused outrage among his superiors and colleagues.

On May 14, 1948, Be'eri arrested Yehuda Amster, a relative and assistant of Haifa Mayor Abba Hushi, on charges of espionage and interrogated him for 76 days in an attempt to obtain a confession from Hushi. Amster was released without charges on August 1 after Be'eri was dismissed. Subsequently, it was revealed that Be'eri had falsified evidence suggesting that Hushi was engaged in espionage for the British.

On June 30, 1948, Be'eri, along with Binyamin Gibli, arrested Major Meir Tubianski on suspicion of treason. Tubianski was quickly tried by a military field court, known as a "kangaroo court," and sentenced to death. The sentence was immediately carried out without allowing Tubianski to defend himself or appeal. Later, Tubianski was posthumously exonerated, rehabilitated, and buried with military honors.

In the summer of 1948, Be'eri ordered the killing of his own agent, Ali Kassem, an Arab whom he suspected of double-crossing him. Following this incident, a commission of inquiry was established at the behest of David Ben-Gurion to investigate Be'eri's actions. The commission recommended his removal from office. Be'eri was demoted to the rank of a regular soldier and discharged from the army.

On October 15, 1949, Be'eri was found guilty of the murder of Meir Tubianski. However, considering the circumstances and Be'eri's contributions, he was sentenced to only one day in prison. Be'eri was pardoned by Israel's first president, Chaim Weizmann. Be'eri himself and his son later claimed that he was merely following orders from David Ben-Gurion.

Isser Be'eri passed away in January 1958 from a heart attack.