The Red Sea Diving Resort the Mossad Used to Bring Ethiopian Jews to Israel

In the 1980s, trying to help Jews fleeing war-torn Ethiopia make it to the Jewish state, the Mossad purchased an abandoned hotel on the Sudanese coast and turned it into a front for their operation. From there, the agents found Ethiopian Jews who had traveled, usually on foot, to Sudan, and then transported them to Israel. The story was told in fictionalized form in the Netflix film The Red Sea Diving Resort, but the journalist Raffi Berg has recently written a historical work about the affair, based on extensive research and interviews with the participants. He discusses the story in an interview with James Sorene:

[T]he Ethiopian Jewish community [had] existed for centuries, driven by an ancestral longing to return to the lands of its forefathers, which these Jews did not call the land of Israel but rather “the land of Jerusalem.” They expected that the day would come when they would leave Ethiopia and return to Israel.

It is a common misperception that the Ethiopian Jews were “rescued” by the Mossad. Even the Mossad people don’t like that terminology, and Ethiopian Jews themselves do not like this term, either. There is a very good reason for this, and that is the fact that these communities were indeed agents of their own fate. The Ethiopian Jews [embarked on a] tremendous odyssey, on foot, from Ethiopia across the border into Sudan, and it was a hellish journey. They climbed over mountains, through deserts and jungles and across rivers, with very few provisions. About 16,000 Ethiopian Jews made the journey, and around 1,500 did not make it to Sudan.

At first, small numbers of Ethiopian Jews were being smuggled out of the Khartoum airport and passed off as non-Jewish refugees. As the number of Ethiopian Jews began to increase quite drastically, [a Mossad agent interviewed by Berg, who goes only by the name “Dani”], had to conceive of ways in which he could scale up the operation. He suggested ceasing to rely on the airport and instead using the Israeli Navy, which could transport the Jews from Sudan’s coast. When he was trying to identify sites for a suitable landing bay, Dani stumbled across this abandoned diving resort. If the Mossad could get hold of it and turn it into a Club-Med style resort, it could be used as a legitimate base for operatives to live and work at in the daytime and carry out “people smuggling” operations at night.

Read more at Fathom

More about: Ethiopian Jews, Film, Mossad


Why Egypt Fears an Israeli Victory in Gaza

While the current Egyptian president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, has never been friendly to Hamas, his government has objected strenuously to the Israeli campaign in the southernmost part of the Gaza Strip. Haisam Hassanein explains why:

Cairo has long been playing a double game, holding Hamas terrorists near while simultaneously trying to appear helpful to the United States and Israel. Israel taking control of Rafah threatens Egypt’s ability to exploit the chaos in Gaza, both to generate profits for regime insiders and so Cairo can pose as an indispensable mediator and preserve access to U.S. money and arms.

Egyptian security officials have looked the other way while Hamas and other Palestinian militants dug tunnels on the Egyptian-Gaza border. That gave Cairo the ability to use the situation in Gaza as a tool for regional influence and to ensure Egypt’s role in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict would not be eclipsed by regional competitors such as Qatar and Turkey.

Some elements close to the Sisi regime have benefited from Hamas control over Gaza and the Rafah crossing. Media reports indicate an Egyptian company run by one of Sisi’s close allies is making hundreds of millions of dollars by taxing Gazans fleeing the current conflict.

Moreover, writes Judith Miller, the Gaza war has been a godsend to the entire Egyptian economy, which was in dire straits last fall. Since October 7, the International Monetary Fund has given the country a much-needed injection of cash, since the U.S. and other Western countries believe it is a necessary intermediary and stabilizing force. Cairo therefore sees the continuation of the war, rather than an Israeli victory, as most desirable. Hassanein concludes:

Adding to its financial incentive, the Sisi regime views the Rafah crossing as a crucial card in preserving Cairo’s regional standing. Holding it increases Egypt’s relevance to countries that want to send aid to the Palestinians and ensures Washington stays quiet about Egypt’s gross human-rights violations so it can maintain a stable flow of U.S. assistance and weaponry. . . . No serious effort to turn the page on Hamas will yield the desired results without cutting this umbilical cord between the Sisi regime and Hamas.

Read more at Washington Examiner

More about: Egypt, Gaza War 2023, U.S. Foreign policy