Zvi Zamir, the fourth director of Mossad, died on January 2, 2024, in Tel Aviv at the age of 98. Born Zvicka Zarzevsky in Lodz, Poland, in 1925, he immigrated to Israel when he was just seven months old, embarking on a journey that would see him rise to the top echelons of Israel’s defense and intelligence sectors.
Zamir’s military career was extensive and impactful. He served as a commander in the Haganah’s Palmach strike force during the 1948-49 War of Independence. In 1946, he was arrested by the British police and spent 10 months in the Latrun detention camp. Post-independence, he held various commanding positions in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), including leading the Givati Brigade and later the Southern Command. His tenure as the IDF’s attaché in London was followed by his appointment as the Mossad director by then-Prime Minister Levi Eshkol in 1968, a position he held until 1974.
Zamir’s tenure as Mossad chief was characterized by his proactive approach and significant actions, particularly in combating terrorism and addressing conventional military threats to Israel. This period peaked with the outbreak of the Yom Kippur War. Prior to the war, he met with Egyptian agent Ashraf Marwan in London, who warned of an impending attack. Although this warning was not fully heeded, the Agranat Commission later praised Mossad for its intelligence work during this critical period.
One of the most defining moments of Zamir’s career was his leadership during the tragic Munich Olympics massacre in 1972. Following the attack by the Black September faction of the PLO, Zamir led Operation Wrath of God, an initiative to track down and eliminate those responsible for the massacre.