Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday named an old Army friend from a rival political party as his new Home Front Minister, amid growing concern here about preparedness for the response to a potential attack on Iran this fall.
The new Minister, Avi Dichter, a former Head of the Shin Bet - Israel’s version of the Federal Bureau of Investigation - will resign his Parliament seat and quit the centrist Kadima Party to join Netanyahu’s government.
The current Home Front Minister, Matan Vilnai, is becoming Ambassador to China.
Dichter, 59, served with Netanyahu - and under the command of the current Defense Minister, Ehud Barak - in the elite Special Forces unit known as Sayeret Matkal. He spent his career in the Shin Bet before becoming its Director in 2000 and left in 2005. In 2006, he was elected to Parliament, and named Minister of Internal Security.
The appointment came after several days of newspaper headlines questioning Home Front preparedness in the case of war with Iran, including the fact that more than 40% of Israelis do not have gas masks.