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

Iran’s Four-Decade Strategy to Envelope Israel in Terror

Yesterday, the head of the Shin Bet—Israel’s internal security service—was in Washington meeting with officials from the State Department, CIA, and the White House itself. Among the topics no doubt discussed are rising tensions with Iran and the possibility that the latter, in order to defend its nuclear program, will instruct its network of proxies in Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon, Syria, and even Iraq and Yemen to attack the Jewish state. Oved Lobel explores the history of this network, which, he argues, predates Iran’s Islamic Revolution—when Shiite radicals in Lebanon coordinated with Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s movement in Iran:

An inextricably linked Iran-Syria-Palestinian axis has actually been in existence since the early 1970s, with Lebanon the geographical fulcrum of the relationship and Damascus serving as the primary operational headquarters. Lebanon, from the 1980s until 2005, was under the direct military control of Syria, which itself slowly transformed from an ally to a client of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) following the collapse of the Soviet Union. The nexus among Damascus, Beirut, and the Palestinian territories should therefore always have been viewed as one front, both geographically and operationally. It’s clear that the multifront-war strategy was already in operation during the first intifada years, from 1987 to 1993.

[An] Iranian-organized conference in 1991, the first of many, . . . established the “Damascus 10”—an alliance of ten Palestinian factions that rejected any peace process with Israel. According to the former Hamas spokesperson and senior official Ibrahim Ghosheh, he spoke to then-Hizballah Secretary-General Abbas al-Musawi at the conference and coordinated Hizballah attacks from Lebanon in support of the intifada. Further important meetings between Hamas and the Iranian regime were held in 1999 and 2000, while the IRGC constantly met with its agents in Damascus to encourage coordinated attacks on Israel.

For some reason, Hizballah’s guerilla war against Israel in Lebanon in the 1980s and 1990s was, and often still is, viewed as a separate phenomenon from the first intifada, when they were in fact two fronts in the same battle.

Israel opted for a perilous unconditional withdrawal from Lebanon in May 2000, which Hamas’s Ghosheh asserts was a “direct factor” in precipitating the start of the second intifada later that same year.

Read more at Australia/Israel Review

More about: First intifada, Hizballah, Iran, Palestinian terror, Second Intifada