Inside Israel and the Palestinian Territories
Frayed cloak, rusty dagger?
Seems someone on the Mossad’s hit-list just won a reprieve.
According to witnesses, a black-clad man in his 20′s attached a magnetic replica bomb to the door of a car parked in Tel Aviv’s tony port district, and tried to slip away. He was spotted by two diners at a nearby restaurant who, thinking him a terrorist or mob contract-killer, alerted police.
Confronted by the cops, the suspect revealed that he was on a Mossad drill. The story surfaced on Tuesday evening, after government censors dropped a gag order.
Was it a training exercise for a novice spy? Probably not. The Mossad is known to dispatch its cadets onto the streets of Israel, and beyond, to learn basic surveillance and infiltration skills. But assassination missions are reserved for select squads of veteran operatives.
(Besides, if the first rule for espionage trainees is “don’t get caught”, the second is: “If caught, don’t admit you’re a spy.”)
That suggests that the Mossad chose Tel Aviv port for a “model run” — Israeli spooks’ term for a rehearsed operation in a safe area that closely resembles the real target’s environment. In such drills, eluding detection and making a getaway are key. Less important is the weapon of choice. Israelis are familiar with the effectiveness of booby-trapped cars thanks to the assassination in 2008 of Hezbollah mastermind Imad Moughniyeh in Syria, and of two brothers from Islamic Jihad in Lebanon in 2006. Arabs blamed both bombings on the Mossad, which, under long-time director Meir Dagan, is widely understood to be taking the fight to Israel’s foes abroad.
So: What foreign ports look most like Tel Aviv’s, and which Arab guerrilla leaders frequent them?
Such questions may be moot. If, indeed, an Israeli assassination was meant to have taken place somewhere out there, it’s now well on hold. Israeli media reported that three Mossad personnel involved in the Tel Aviv foul-up have been suspended.