How the Mossad Ran a Seaside Resort as a Front for Rescuing Ethiopian Jews

In the early 1980s, the Mossad developed a plan for transporting to Israel a substantial number of Ethiopian Jews who had taken refuge in Sudan. Since, then as now, there were no relations between Jerusalem and Khartoum, Israeli operatives purchased a defunct Italian resort on the coast of the Red Sea as a front for their activities, offering tourists windsurfing and diving classes while sending operatives out to locate refugees and lead them to safety. The episode is currently being made into a movie, scheduled for release later this year. Allison Kaplan Sommer describes what happened:

The story of Operation Brothers, [as it was known], actually dates to 1977 and the election of Prime Minister Menachem Begin. Reports came into Israel that Ethiopian Jews had started fleeing civil war and famine in their homeland, many heading to neighboring Sudan where they were being housed in refugee camps. Although Sudan was a predominantly Muslim state hostile to Israel, its geographical location made it a perfect pathway for Ethiopians hoping to continue on to the Jewish state. Begin summoned the then-head of the Mossad, Yitzḥak Ḥofi, to see what could be done. . . .

Deciding that [a] deserted holiday village could be an ideal staging area from which to smuggle the Ethiopians to Israel by sea, the Mossad hatched its plan. The Sudanese Tourist Corporation believed it was leasing the resort—for the princely sum of $320,000—to a Swiss company eager to create a new getaway destination. . . . The local employees knew nothing of the resort’s real goal, or the real identities of their bosses. And the guests who eventually stayed at the resort—making it such a success it even turned a profit—were also unaware of its true purpose. . . .

Gad Shimron, [one of the directors of the operation], stresses [in an interview that] it’s important to remember that the bravest people in the story weren’t the Mossad operatives, but those Ethiopian Jews who endured endless hardships trying to reach Israel by land, sea, or air. His book [on the subject] contains descriptions of these stoic, uncomplaining men, women, and children who crowded into trucks, hid in wadis and climbed into small boats or planes with no idea where they were headed, but with utter trust in their rescuers.

“What they went through in order to fulfill their dream of coming to Zion,” Shimron said, “no normal Israeli or any Westerner could have endured for even three days.”

Read more at Forward

More about: Ethiopian Jews, Israel & Zionism, Menachem Begin, Mossad, Sudan

Hizballah Is Learning Israel’s Weak Spots

On Tuesday, a Hizballah drone attack injured three people in northern Israel. The next day, another attack, targeting an IDF base, injured eighteen people, six of them seriously, in Arab al-Amshe, also in the north. This second attack involved the simultaneous use of drones carrying explosives and guided antitank missiles. In both cases, the defensive systems that performed so successfully last weekend failed to stop the drones and missiles. Ron Ben-Yishai has a straightforward explanation as to why: the Lebanon-backed terrorist group is getting better at evading Israel defenses. He explains the three basis systems used to pilot these unmanned aircraft, and their practical effects:

These systems allow drones to act similarly to fighter jets, using “dead zones”—areas not visible to radar or other optical detection—to approach targets. They fly low initially, then ascend just before crashing and detonating on the target. The terrain of southern Lebanon is particularly conducive to such attacks.

But this requires skills that the terror group has honed over months of fighting against Israel. The latest attacks involved a large drone capable of carrying over 50 kg (110 lbs.) of explosives. The terrorists have likely analyzed Israel’s alert and interception systems, recognizing that shooting down their drones requires early detection to allow sufficient time for launching interceptors.

The IDF tries to detect any incoming drones on its radar, as it had done prior to the war. Despite Hizballah’s learning curve, the IDF’s technological edge offers an advantage. However, the military must recognize that any measure it takes is quickly observed and analyzed, and even the most effective defenses can be incomplete. The terrain near the Lebanon-Israel border continues to pose a challenge, necessitating technological solutions and significant financial investment.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Hizballah, Iron Dome, Israeli Security