The A-Z of Israel
On 22 January, Israelis will go to the polls. The world watches – but how much do we really know about the country that calls itself “the sole bastion of democracy” in the Middle East?
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I is for Institute
Uri Dromi writes: Israel’s Institute for Intel - ligence and Special Operations (haMossad leModi’in uleTafkidim Meyuchadim, or “the Mossad”), established in 1951, analyses in - telligence and performs special covert operations beyond Israel’s borders. According to its official website, over the years it has extended its activities to include preventing the development and procurement of nonconventional weapons by hostile countries; pre-empting terrorist acts against Israeli targets abroad; and bringing Jews home from countries where official aliyah (Jewish immigration) agencies are not allowed to operate.
Though officially Israel has refrained in the past from volunteering information about the Mossad, the state acknowledged some of its early operations, the most prominent one being the abduction of Adolf Eichmann in Argentina in 1960 under the personal command of its then-chief, Isser Harel. After the massacre of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics, Golda Meir ordered it to launch “Operation Wrath of God” and kill Ali Hassan Salameh, head of the Palestinian terror group Black September, which had committed the crime. Mossad agents in Lillehammer, Norway, killed a Moroccan by the name of Ahmed Bouchiki, mistaking him for Salameh.
In 1997, in broad daylight in a street in Amman, Jordan, its agents also tried unsuccessfully to kill Khaled Meshal, the political leader of Hamas. However, these embarrassing failures pale in comparison to the series of successes that won the Mossad the respect of other intelligence agencies and the admiration of millions of Israelis.
With the rise of the threat of Israel’s enemies acquiring nuclear capability, foreign sources reported that the Mossad was responsible for gathering the intelligence that led to the successful aerial attack on Syria’s nuclear reactor in 2007. It is believed that it was the Mossad which, in 2010-2011, killed vital Iranian nuclear engineers and managers and carried out serious sabotage. After retiring in 2011 as the head of the Mossad, Meir Dagan spoke publicly against what seemed to be a determination by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Ehud Barak to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities. In what appeared to Israeli observers a “oneman crusade”, he said that Israel should leave the leadership role to the United States (see V for Veto and X for X-band radar), implying that covert actions are much more efficient than a military attack, which might spark unforeseen grave consequences.
Uri Dromi was spokesman for the Rabin and Peres governments of Israel from 1992-96