The Adventures of a Mossad “Associate”

July 1, 2019 | Robert Rockaway
About the author:

Born in Jerusalem in 1943, Yossi has lived in more than a dozen countries, owns five passports under different names, and speaks Hebrew, Italian, and German fluently. After working as a Mossad agent for several years in the 1960s, he became a Mossad “associate”—a civilian who helps the organization from time to time. Robert Rockaway, drawing on interviews with Yossi, recounts some of his experiences, which include kidnapping the brother of an Egyptian newspaper editor, helping an Israeli escape from a Swiss prison where Yossi himself was also being held, and assassinating an Italian terrorist. But some of Yossi’s escapades were less glamorous, if no less important:

[W]hen Hafez al-Assad was president of Syria, Israeli officials knew that he was diabetic and had suffered a heart attack. Israeli officials wanted to find out just how sick he was. The Mossad knew that Assad was flying to the Hilton Hotel in Geneva. . . . Mossad agents came to the hotel before Assad arrived. They knew in which room Assad was staying, . . . took the room directly [underneath], and connected Assad’s toilet pipe to their own room’s toilet. When Assad went to the toilet they took samples of his stool and sent it to Israel for analysis as to whether he was sick. They found that Assad was indeed very sick and that his days were likely numbered. Some months later, Assad suffered a heart attack and died.

In 1980, Yossi moved to Hong Kong and worked for an American company. In 1986, . . . the Mossad asked him to take someone named Zvi Aharoni to work for him. Aharoni was a Mossad agent, who in 1960 had traced Adolf Eichmann to Argentina and identified him as Ricardo Klement.

The Mossad sent Aharoni to Yossi so that he, too, could legally live and work in Hong Kong and use it as his base for operations. By means of his German passport, Aharoni had been making contacts with foreign governments for Israel. At that time, Israel had no relations with China and Indonesia. . . . Aharoni secretly brought the Indonesian army chief of staff to Israel. He also did the same with the chief of staff of the Chinese army. This led to surreptitious contacts between these countries and Israel. China eventually established diplomatic relations with Israel in 1992.

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