A funeral ceremony of slain Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh during funeral procession inside the Iranian defense ministry in Tehran, Iran, on Nov. 30, 2020. Iranian officials have blamed Israel for the killing of Fakhrizadeh who led Tehran's disbanded military nuclear program. Photo by Iranian Defense Ministry/UPI | License Photo
Aug. 18 (UPI) -- For the first time, two women have been appointed to take over executive-level positions inside Israel's foreign intelligence agency, and both will be mainly charged with keeping an eye on Iran and its nuclear program.
The Mossad, which is Israel's version of the CIA, announced the historic shakeup Thursday, but withheld the identities of both agents as they were handed oversight of Iran's nuclear program, global terrorism and smoothing relations in the Middle East.
Both women rose through the ranks and bring decades of experience to their new positions.
The Mossad's new director of intelligence operations has served the agency in a variety of roles for the past 20 years.
Most recently, she was chief of the technology department at Mossad, a role for which she received the Israel Security Award at a ceremony only two months ago.
"I use this honorable platform to call on women to act to realize their potential and influence in the security system, including the combat or technological units, in order to make their mark," she said at the time, according to the Jerusalem Post.
She now becomes one of the most principle figures inside the agency, entrusted with knowledge and oversight of all Mossad's operations.
Her newly appointed deputy also becomes a central figure at the agency and will work with the country's defense and security forces to address the full spectrum of threats posed by Iran.
Both promotions come as the intelligence division grows into the Mossad's "main area of activity," with the agency prioritizing the department's expansion.
Tensions in the region appear to be escalating as Israel has stepped up operations targeting Iranian scientists, nuclear sites and military figures.
Sayyad Khodaei, a senior officer in Iran's Revolutionary Guard believed responsible for a series of plots against prominent Israelis, was assassinated in front of his Tehran home in June.
A month later, Iranian police arrested several "members of a spy network" they claimed were linked to Israel's secret services.
Cyberattacks between the two nations have also become more frequent in recent months.
Meanwhile, Mossad director David Bernea touted his agency's focus on gender equality.
"Many women serve in operational roles, as fighters and handlers of agents and are integrated into the core of our operational and intelligence activities with talent, professionalism and resourcefulness," he said, according to the Jerusalem Post.
Right now, four women serve as department chiefs at the intelligence agency.