Carmi Gillon (born January 1950) (Hebrew: כרמי גילון) is an Israeli politician and a former Israeli ambassador to Denmark and head of Shabak, the internal General Security Service (GSS; Israeli Security Agency, ISA) of Israel.
Gillon was born in Jerusalem into a well-known family of lawyers who resided in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Rehavia. His grandfather, Gad Frumkin, was the only Jewish judge to serve at the Supreme Court of Palestine under the British Mandate and was also a member of the Hebrew University's Board of Governors from the 1930's until his death. His father, Colin Gillon, was a state attorney, and his mother Saada Gillon (née Frumkin) was deputy attorney general.
He began his army service in the armored corps and was later transferred to the artillery corps. He was released from the army in 1971.
He graduated from the National Defense College. He has a B.A. in political science from the Hebrew University, where he was recruited into the Israeli Security Agency and an M.A. in public policy from the University of Haifa. He is also a graduate of the advanced management program at the Harvard Business School, and completed management training at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.
Shin Bet Service
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In 1972, Shin Bet recruited Gillon. He initially worked as a bodyguard in the field. From 1982 to 1987, he was chief of the Shin Bet Jewish Department. From 1987 to 1989, he attended the National Security College, serving in a number of senior positions during his studies for an MA in political science and public administration. From 1989, he was chief of the Training Division. From 1990, he was chief of the Shin Bet Northern Command, a position in which he was responsible for Shin Bet activity in Lebanon. From 1993 to 1994, he was chief of the Administrative Division, responsible for HR, finances, and logistics. For four months in 1994, he was Shin Bet acting director during Yaakov Peri’s academic leave.
From March 1995 to February 1996, Gillon was Shabak director. B'Tselem, Human Rights Watch, and other human rights organizations have criticized his oversight. "During his tenure, and until the Israel High Court of Justice ruled against such methods in 1999, GSS interrogators were officially sanctioned to use 'moderate physical pressure' on detainees (the vast majority of them Palestinians)," according to Amnesty International. From October 1994, when a suicide bomb killed 23 people, they were allowed to use "increased physical pressure". Secret government guidelines set down what "moderate physical pressure" and "increased physical pressure" allowed; according to court testimonies of GSS members themselves, this included subjecting detainees to sleep deprivation, prolonged shackling in painful positions, hooding with filthy sacks, being forced to squat like a frog (gambaz) and violent shaking (tiltul). During Carmi Gillon's period of service with the GSS such methods of interrogation were used against several hundred Palestinian detainees every year, many of whom were later released without charge.
Ambassador to Denmark
From 2001 to 2003, he was the Israeli ambassador to Denmark. When he was nominated for the position in 2001, Human Rights Watch called for the Danish Government to reject his appointment and for Israel to withdraw his nomination, while Amnesty International asked the Danes to investigate him for torture, and if there was enough evidence for a prosecution, to detain him under the UN Convention against Torture, and to either try him or extradite him to a state willing to try him. Danish Justice Minister Frank Jensen initially said that Gillon could be arrested and prosecuted under the terms of the Convention after he admitted using "moderate physical pressure" on Palestinian detainees, but later backed down, acknowledging that as an ambassador, Gillon was protected by diplomatic immunity.
Gillon defended the use of torture as a means of "self-defense against terrorism." He told Danish media that Israel might have to re-introduce "moderate physical pressure" when interrogating suspected Palestinian terrorists. "We banned this form of interrogation in Israel in 1999 because of the peace process. Unfortunately, it looks like we may have to start using it again," Gillon said. One member of parliament, Centre Democrat leader Peter Duetoft, called opposition to Gillon's appointment "hypocritical" because Yasser Arafat, "the biggest terrorist", had recently visited Denmark without there having been similar objections.
Politics and Other Activities
Gillon has been a member of a number of boards of directors, including the Tahal Group, Danker Investment, and the Arab Israel Bank. From 2014, he was chairman and CEO of Carmi Gillon Inc., chairman of CYTEGIC, and external director of the Dan Hotels chain.
Over the years, Gillon has written several books and a range of articles on the subjects of foreign affairs and security. He has also been an active current affairs commentator in the electronic media in Israel and overseas.
Gillon is married to Sari and has three children.
In 2012, Gillon was featured in a documentary film, The Gatekeepers, and discussed the main events of his tenure in Shin Bet.
- Rabin Assassin Seeks Early Release, CBS News 30 October 2005
- Carmi Gillon
- Amnesty International calls on Denmark to fulfil its obligations under the UN Convention against Torture 14 August 2001, AI Index MDE 15/074/2001 - News Service Nr. 143
- Letter to Danish Minister of Foreign Affairs Mogens Lykketoft, Human Rights Watch 18 July 2001
- Sharon 'preparing war crimes defence', BBC News 26 July 2001
- Something rotten in Denmark, by Ellis Shuman, Israel Insider 26 July 2001
- Carmi Gillon -- CV, http://www.carmigillon.com/#!resume/galleryPage, accessed 5 May 2015