Mossad is the state of Israel's covert intelligence and action authority, which works outside the boundaries of the nation. It's director is Tamir Pardo, appointed in November 2010.
Before the State of Israel was formed in May of 1948 there were several semi-underground and underground Jewish organizations that needed information to continue operations. The local Arabs were joined by other Arab states and their armies wanted stop any plans for a united Jewish state. The underground Jewish organizations were formed to deter Arab mobs, and to rescue Jews caught in hostile territory.
The main military force for the Jewish community was the Hagana and it established the Shai, which would provide needed information to the Jewish leadership so they could deal with Arab countries and Israeli Arabs. Shai produced excellent information before the Jewish state was formed but the declaration of the new state produced a need for better intelligence services as well as a better infrastructure that defined specific spheres of responsibility. In June of 1948 Reuven Shiloah was named head of the political department of Israel's foreign ministry.
Shiloah focused on foreign political matters. He formed alliances with non-Arab Islamic states like Turkey and concentrated on salvaging Jewish assets in other countries so they could be returned to Israel. This political department, which was defined as an "external political information service," became a covert and independent intelligence agency although structured within the Foreign Ministry. That meant that the service's tasks, objectives, budgets, inter-service relations and powers could not be legislated. There was confusion within the Foreign Ministry, as instructions and orders were often blurred and misunderstood so that one area would sometimes act within the purview of another area and that created some serious internal issues.
In 1949 Shiloah proposed the creation of a central organization that could coordinate and organize an intelligence and security service. The organization would enhance the existing role of Shai. On December 13, 1949 Ben Gurion authorized the creation of the 'Institution for Co-ordination' to oversee and control the political department and to coordinate military intelligence organizations and internal security. The new organization was named Mossad.
Mossad was rooted in the Foreign Ministry but in 1951 it went through a complete reorganization to unify its overseas operations and to enhance its overall operational capabilities. A central authority was established within Mossad to handle all overseas intelligence tasks. That arm was called "the Authority" and it became a major part of the dynamics within Mossad. Mossad broke away from the Ministry when the organization was complete and it became part of the prime minister's office.
The Authority, or Mossad, is now called The Institute for Intelligence and Special Operations, officially appointed to "collect information, analyze intelligence, and perform special covert operations beyond its borders." Its most recent director, from 2002 to 2011, was Meir Dagan. The Israeli government denied Dagan's request for extension of his term following the assassination of Hamas Bureau Chief Hisham al-Labadani, (the last of a string of assassinations allegedly conducted by Mossad agents during Dagan's tenure), for which Israel avoided claiming responsibility. On 15 September 2012 the former Mossad chief stated on the TV show "60 Minutes" that "The regime in Iran is a very rational regime" in a way, and that an attack on Iran was the "stupidest idea" he'd ever heard. He further spoke, smiling, about a day in the future when his grandson asked him what he did for his country. In early October 2012 mainstream press reported that Dagan had received a liver transplant in Belarus, denied to him in Israel due to his age of 67, for a previously undisclosed condition and that he had been immediately hospitalized in Israel upon his return. Dagan's replacement as Mossad chief was Tamir Pardo, appointed in November 2010.
Through the years, Mossad has expanded and it now performs several important functions that include gathering covert intelligence beyond Israel's borders and preventing the procurement or development of non-conventional weapons by hostile countries. Mossad also guards against terrorist acts against all Israeli targets in other countries and it develops and maintains special diplomatic relations.
Other services include bringing Jews back home from countries where Aliya agencies are not allowed to operate, producing strategic operational and political intelligence and carrying out special operations beyond the borders of Israel. According to Mossad's Web site, the Mossad charter explains the values that motivate its service. Members of Mossad uphold the values of justice, humility, morality, integrity, discipline, reliability, personal responsibility and discretion. Mossad is dedicated to serving as a role model as well as inspiration for the State of Israel. The Mossad adopted as its "motto, guide, creative awakener and ideology" and "as a dire warning" a verse from Proverbs, a book of the Bible: Without guidance do a people fall, and deliverance is in a multitude of counselors.