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Ami Ayalon: Biography

Israel – Minister without Portfolio

Amihai “Ami” Ayalon (Hebrew: עמיחי איילון‎; born 27 June 1945) is an Israeli politician and a former member of the Knesset for the Labor Party. He was previously head of the Shin Bet, Israel’s secret service, and commander-in-chief of the Navy. He came in second to Ehud Barak in a Labor party leadership election in June 2007, and was appointed a Minister without Portfolio in September 2007.

Ami Ayalon was born in Tiberias and grew up in kibbutz Ma’agan. His parents moved to British Mandate Palestine in the 1930s. His mother came as a young girl to study in Jerusalem; his father, Yitzhak, was one of the founders of Ma’agan, where he worked until retirement as a carpenter. Ayalon graduated from Bar-Ilan University with a Bachelor of Arts in 1980. In 1992 he received a Master of Public Administration from Harvard University. He is married and the father of three.

Ayalon served his entire military service in the Israeli Navy. Ayalon enlisted in 1963 and volunteered for the Shayetet 13 navy commando unit. In 1969, Ayalon was decorated with the Medal of Valor, Israel’s highest award, for his conduct in Operation Bulmus 6 – the assault on fortified Green Island, Egypt (jointly with Sayeret Matkal). In 1979, Ayalon was appointed commander of Shayetet 13, and was once again decorated – this time for carrying out a long list of operations without casualties.

Ayalon, receiving the rank of major general, served as commander of the Israeli Navy from 1992 through 1996.

Following Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination in 1995, Ayalon was “parachuted” into the post of head of the Shin Bet (Israel’s internal security service). He retired in 2000.

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