Yuval Diskinstill has vivid memories of the 1967 Six Day War, even though he was just a young boy at the time. What he remembers most is his fear of what might have happened if Israel lost that war. As a young man he served in the IDF’s Shaked Reconnaissance Unit, rising to the rank of Deputy Company Commander.
He joined the Shin Bet in May 1978 and was appointed Coordinator for the Nablus District. There, in the alleys of the refugee camps, he learned about the harsh realities of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. During Operation Peace for Galilee he served in Beirut (1982) and Sidon (1983). In August 1990, he was appointed Director of the Department for Counter-Terrorism and Counter-Espionage at the Arab and Iranian Affairs Desk.
Diskin’s attitudes to the conflict changed even before the signing of the Oslo Accords, as a result of his participation in security talks with the Palestinians. From 1993 to 1997, he was deeply involved in establishing clandestine links with the leaders of the Palestinian security services, as well as with Jordanian and Egyptian intelligence.
In May 1997, he was appointed Director of the Central Command of the Shin Bet (Jerusalem and West Bank Region), a position he held until June 2000. During these turbulent years, the military wing of Hamas carried out a string of suicide attacks intended to foil the peace process. Diskin headed the operation that destroyed Hamas military infrastructures throughout Judea and Samaria. In July 2000, he was appointed Deputy Director of the Shin Bet. He became Head of the Shin Bet in May 2005.
While serving as Deputy Director of the Shin Bet, he worked with his counterparts in the IDF to create an integrated counter-terrorism doctrine to thwart terrorist attacks, particularly the suicide bombers known as “ticking time bombs.” He is believed to be the person who initiated and perfected the doctrine of "targeted assassination."
Upon retiring from the Shin Bet in May 2011, he has drawn attention from the Israeli and international media for his sharp critique of the current government’s policies toward the Palestinians.