The Mossad Should Stay Out of the Limelight

Oct. 13 2021

In a recent speech to the Knesset, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett referred to a “complex” endeavor by Israeli intelligence operatives to find out the location of the body of Ron Arad—an Israeli airman who was captured in Lebanon in 1986. Dramatic stories soon followed in the Israeli press of the kidnapping of an Iranian general and other feats connected to this operation. Zev Chafets argues that Bennet erred by drawing attention to the Mossad’s activities:

One of the secrets of the Mossad’s success has been the success of its secrecy. The organization is under the direct control of the prime minister. It reports to no one else and has no spokesperson. Until recently, even the name of the agency’s head was a state secret.

[More to the point], the operation Bennett announced was an apparent failure. Arad’s body was not found. The Mossad doesn’t normally publicize its failures and things got more confusing after the new Mossad chief David Barnea later claimed it had been successful, though he did not elaborate.

There was no need to know and the Mossad’s credibility, as well as its effectiveness, is critical for Israel’s security. . . . The Mossad is built to be opaque. If it becomes transparent it will inevitably raise questions in friendly foreign agencies about the safety of shared information and joint operations. If prime ministers make a habit of flaunting successes, it can serve as an invitation and a justification for enemy retaliation. And misrepresenting operational failures as successes from the Knesset podium is neither good statecraft nor good politics.

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Read more at Bloomberg

More about: Israeli Security, Lebanon, Mossad, Naftali Bennett

 

Why the Leader of Hamas Went to Russia

Sept. 30 2022

Earlier this month, the Hamas chairman Ismail Haniyeh and several of his colleagues visited Moscow, where they met with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and other Russian officials. According to Arabic-language media, Haniyeh came seeking “new ideas” about how to wage war against the Jewish state. The terrorist group has had good relations with the Kremlin for several years, and even maintains an office in Moscow. John Hardie and Ivana Stradner comment on the timing of the visit:

For Moscow, the visit likely reflects a continuation of its efforts to leverage the Palestinians and other issues to pressure Israel over its stance on Russia’s war in Ukraine. Russia and Israel built friendly relations in the decades following the Soviet Union’s dissolution. After Russia invaded Ukraine in February, Jerusalem condemned the war, but made sure to tread carefully in order to preserve working ties with Moscow, lest Russian military forces in Syria disrupt Israel’s strategically important air operations there.

Nevertheless, bilateral tensions spiked in April after Yair Lapid, then serving as Israel’s foreign minister, joined the chorus of voices worldwide accusing Russia of committing war crimes in Ukraine. Jerusalem later provided Kyiv with some non-lethal military aid and a field hospital. In response, Moscow hardened its rhetoric about Israeli actions in the Palestinian territories.

The Palestinian issue isn’t the only way that Russia has sought to pressure Israel. Moscow is also threatening, on seemingly spurious grounds, to shutter the Russian branch of the Jewish Agency.

Moscow likely has little appetite for outright conflict with Israel, particularly when the bulk of Russia’s military is floundering in Ukraine. But there are plenty of other ways that Russia, which maintains an active intelligence presence in the Jewish state, could damage Israel’s interests. As Moscow cozies up with Hamas, Iran, and other enemies of Israel, Jerusalem—and its American allies—would do well to keep a watchful eye.

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Read more at Algemeiner

More about: Hamas, Israeli Security, Russia