Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appointed Yoram Cohen to replace outgoing director Yuval Diskin.
Netanyahu said Monday, “Yoram was the spearhead of activity in the agency over the past few years.” Netanyahu said Cohen is “a real field man.”
The Shin Bet handles internal security in Israel and the Palestinian areas.
Cohen takes over at a time of tension with the Palestinians, with a sudden escalation in attacks and counterattacks between Israel and Hamas-led Gaza.
He served as deputy under Diskin, who steps down in May after six years at the helm of the agency.
Israeli media said Cohen would be the first Orthodox Jew to hold the position.