Difficulties in 1997-1998 and Follow-on Reportage

Included here:

1. False Reports from Mossad Spy in Syria

2. Incident in Switzerland

3. New Head of Mossad

4. Incident in London

1. False Reports from Mossad Spy in Syria

Schmemann, Serge. "Israelis Given False Reports by Syria Spy, Study Says." New York Times, 7 Dec. 1997, A4.

A Mossad officer responsible for watching Syria is being accused of inventing his reports over a period of time. A Haaretz report suggests that the information supplied had influenced key government decisions on Syria.


2. Incident in Switzerland

Materials arranged chronologically.

Schmemann, Serge. "Reports Suggest Another Misstep by Israeli Spy Agency." New York Times, 26 Feb. 1998, A6.

Israeli radio and television are reporting the failure of another Mossad intelligence operation, this time in Switzerland. The Swiss Federal Prosecutor has called a press conference to provide details of an espionage case linked by security officials to Israel. A Yediot Ahronot story links this latest incident to the resignation of Danny Yatom as head of the Mossad. See also, Lee Hockstader, "Swiss Said to Hold Israeli Agent on Spying Charges," Washington Post, 26 Feb. 1998, A19; and Avi Machlis, "Media Dispel Myths Around Israel's Not-So-Secret Service," Financial Times, 26 Feb. 1998, 8.

Schmemann, Serge. "Swiss Confirm New Fiasco by Agents for Israel." New York Times, 27 Feb. 1998, A9.

Swiss authorities have confirmed that Mossad agents were caught last week trying to bug a house in Bern; one of the five remains in detention. It would appear that the publicity surrounding the incident is coming from the Israeli side, and there is speculation that this latest incident was used to oust Danny Yatom as Mossad head. See also, William Drozdiak, "Swiss Accuse Israeli Agents of Espionage," Washington Post, 27 Feb. 1998, A27, A32; and Abraham Rabinovich, "Mossad Fiasco Tars Once-Vaunted Unit's Image as Competent," Washingon Times, 27 Feb. 1998, A15.

IINS News Service.

1. "What was the Mossad Mission in Switzerland?" 4 Mar.1998. []

The London Times reports that Mossad agents arrested in Bern had been sent to carry out an assassination. Their targets "were two men involved in assisting Hizbullah in the acquisition of non-conventional weaponry." The report adds that "at least one member of the Mossad team in Bern was also a member of the team which botched the assassination attempt ... against Hamas senior official Khaled Meshal."

2. "Attorney General in Switzerland to Obtain Mossad Agent's Release" 5 Mar. 1998. []

Israeli Attorney General Elyakim Rubinstein is traveling to Switzerland, where he will meet with officials in the office of the state prosecutor, in an attempt to negotiate the release of a Mossad agent who has been held since his arrest two weeks ago on espionage charges.

3. "Landau Denies Mossad Planned Assassination in Bern." 5 Mar. 1998. []

"Chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Uzi Landau said that reports in the Swiss media that the Mossad agents arrested in Bern had been sent to assassinate two businessmen were 'stupid.'"

Associated Press. "Swiss Charge Israeli Agent." 15 Sep. 1999. []

According to the Swiss federal prosecutor's office, one of five Israeli agents "caught in a bungled spying operation has been charged with espionage and illegal acts for a foreign government.... Investigations continue into the four others who were caught trying to install the bugging equipment and held only a few hours."

Jerusalem Post. "PM Rejects Claim by Mossad Agents that Gov't Abandoned Them." 6 Jul. 2000. []

On 5 July 2000, the Prime Minister's Office "said it gave 'full support' to the Mossad and its director, rejecting criticism by Mossad agents that the government had turned its back on the service by sending an agent to stand trial in Switzerland for a bungled wire-tap attempt on a Hizbullah member."

Capella, Peter, and Suzanne Goldenberg. "Israeli Relief at Spy's Light Sentence." The Guardian, 8 Jul. 2000. []

"Switzerland's supreme court has allowed a Mossad agent [known as Issac Bental] to return to Israel after it handed down a one-year suspended prison sentence on charges of espionage."


3. New Head of Mossad

Materials arranged chronologically.

Machlis, Avi. "Mossad Chief Quits in Wake of Blunders." Financial Times, 25 Feb. 1998, 6.

Sieff, Martin. "New Mossad Chief to Inherit Deeply Troubled Agency." Washington Times, 2 Mar. 1998, A14.

New York Times. "A New Director of Israeli Spies." 5 Mar. 1998, A9 (N).

Reuters reports that Efraim Halevy, currently Israel's representative to the European Union, has been named to head the Mossad. Halevy previously served as deputy chief of Mossad. Gen. Amiram Levine, commander of Israel's northern front and of Israeli forces in southern Lebanon, was named to be deputy director of the Israeli intelligence organization. See also, Avi Machlis, "Israeli Envoy Is Chosen to Head Mossad," Financial Times, 5 Mar. 1998, 8. IINS News Service, 16 Mar.1998, adds that the Knesset has approved Halevy's appointment as the new Director of Mossad.

Burston, Bradley. "Former Chief of Israeli Spy Agency to Be Barak's Top Aide." Philadelphia Inquirer, 31 May 1999. []

On 30 May 1999, Israeli Prime Minister-elect Ehud Barak named the former head of Mossad, Danny Yatom, as his chief of staff. Yatom resigned as head of Mossad in 1998 following the failed assassination attempt against Khaled Meshal in Jordan in September 1997 and the arrest in February 1998 in Bern, Switzerland, of a Mossad agent trying to bug the home of a suspected Hezbollah supporter.


4. Incident in London

Reuters. "Israeli Agents Said to Flee Bungled UK Spy Mission." 14 Mar. 1998. [http://]

According to The Sunday Times, quoting Israeli intelligence sources, three Mossad agents tried to bug the home of a prominent Moslem activist in London, but aborted the mission after arousing suspicion and fled to Israel the same day. The paper said that Mossad sent the agents to London from its Paris station "to target an unnamed man believed to be a member of Hizbollah.... They planned to place bugging equipment in his private residence."


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