Thou shalt not kill Exodus 20:13
It was an unlikely topic to be featured. Not because it lacks importance, but because it happened 25 years ago. “Uvda”* chose to disclose new details on the assassination in its last program of the Spring 2013 Season. Even this was not good enough; new details on the event appear regularly. In November 2012, Israel Military Censor allowed the publication of an interview given by Nahum Lev, one of the commando assassins, in 2000, just before his death.
What convinced me was a thinly disguised help request appearing in a Hebrew page. Could I deny help to the Shin Beth? Let’s spoil their game.
On February 13, 2009, the “7 Days” supplement of Yediot Ahronot published an article by Ronen Bergman; its playful title can be translated as “Suicidal Security.”**
Abu Jihad The History of the German Templer Settlement of Sarona in Palestine 1871-1947
Mr. Bergman often enjoys extraordinary access to intelligence sources to the extent that he exposed the identity of the Egyptian (Ashraf Marwan) who disclosed the 1973 Syrian-Egyptian war plan to the Mossad Director (the warning was ignored by the Israeli government). How can I put that in a way that it won’t lead to a lawsuit? Bergman has excellent connections.
In the 2009 article, he wrote: “Abu Jihad was an intelligent enemy, with a complex worldview, but he failed to fool us. Already in the first stages of the operation planning, we knew that he was planning something big… until this day we do not know how could Abu Jihad supply the fighters he sent with such accurate intelligence about Tel Aviv and the Kirya.”***
Bergman is too young to speak about those events with a “we,” but this is a typical Israeli touch. Another touch of locality is the request of information. He is implying that Abu Jihad had sources within the Kirya; i.e. Israeli soldiers working as PLO agents. Can you help him to identify them?
If so, please run to the nearest Israeli embassy. They always include a Mossad station. Ask to speak with a representative claiming that you have valuable information. You would be isolated, tortured until you admit being Hitler’s son, and then assassinated. Mr. Bergman, I hope to have been of help. Now, to the old news.
One Hummus for Herr Bergman, Please!
Falafel with Tahini and pickles Beyond Hummus and Falafel: Social and Political Aspects of Palestinian Food in Israel
Imagine that we are back in November 1992, and you are a Palestinian selling falafel in Tel Aviv. Most of your customers would be Jewish. As they eat, they will invariably comment on the hottest rumors, those which never reach the news.
On the morning of November 6, an unusual rumor appeared. It claimed that five soldiers of Sayeret Matkal, the IDF elite commando, were killed the day before in a Negev Desert training base, another six were seriously wounded. Some of the customers may even mention that the soldiers had been hit by an anti-tank missile fired by their own friends. That would have been all; no other details would be available.
In contrast to deaths of regular soldiers, the Hebrew press didn’t mention the killed soldiers. The funerals weren’t advertised. Their names appeared on memorials with a delay of months or years. As often happens in Israel, the rumors were true; the missing details were all related to operational issues. Twenty years later, truth was disclosed, it was a training for Saddam Hussein’s assassination. The accident thwarted the operation.
This is not just a colorful description and I am not a Palestinian waiter. Yet, that is exactly how I learned about Operation Bramble Bush. Hummus is good!
Abu Jihad’s Assassination
Uvda Report here
Abu Jihad, kunya for Khalil Ibrahim al-Wazir, was one of the founders of Fatah, the main party forming the PLO. He was assassinated on April 16, 1988 while sleeping in his home in Tunis. He was shot at point blank while his wife watched, Nazi-style. In the months previous to his death, he organized the Youth Committees that became the backbone of the First Intifada. The Uvda Report disclosed footage from the site, communications from the crime scene and interviews with soldiers and commanders.
Helping Herr Bergman
I promised to help Herr Bergman, and I am a man of honor. The report broadcast by Uvda disclosed a conversation between “Bogart” and the commander of the headquarters in Tel Aviv. Mr. Bergman, your terrorists spoke English during the entire event. This should make the task of finding them easier. Good luck!
Finally, 25 years later it is clear that Israel lost. They assassinated one man in the little hours of the night while he slept. They celebrated with kosher wine, and moved forward to plan their next act of violence. 25 Years later, they didn’t enjoy even one night of peace. They are unlikely to enjoy one. They are assassins.
- “Uvda” (“fact” in Hebrew) is a popular Israel Channel 2 program dealing with actual issues. Broadcast since 1993, the beginning of commercial broadcast by this channel, it is the oldest such program in Israeli TV. Its anchor has always been Ilana Dayan. It is widely recognized as, at least, having good relations with the Shin Beth, the secret political police.
- Literally, “Securing Ourself to Knowledge,” which makes little sense even in Hebrew. However it plays on an idiom “To Lose Oneself to Knowledge” is a polite form of referring to suicide.
- “HaKirya” means “The Town” in Hebrew. It is the nickname for the IDF and Ministry of Defense administartive complex near downtown Tel Aviv. It was built on what had been Sarona, a German Templar settlement.
- Finding errors in reports and reviews of IDF special units is common. Contradictions between different descriptions seem to be the norm and eventually discredit most sources. Oddly enough, many times the reports are correct; their only fault being that they are incomplete. With few exceptions (Kingfisher being the most obvious one), these units rate as battalions. However, beyond the formal definition and their subdivision into platoons, there is no operational similarity between them and regular battalions. Each commando platoon has a specific training, which transforms it into a military expert in that topic. Then, specialties are constructed in a matrix fashion across the army. Every commando unit has a counterterrorism specialized platoon. This makes it easier for the IDF to have at any moment an available specialist on the topic. Moreover, it allows a combination of capabilities that increases maneuverability. In special conditions, such a grid-organization enables it to answer complex situations. Imagine a need to perform a counterterrorism operation atop Mount Hermon, at the ski resort. Sending a commando unit accustomed to work in the desert will cause difficulties. The soldiers would not have proper equipment; they would not know how to behave in the snow. In such a case, a mixed team from Sayeret Matkal Alpinist and its Counterterrorism platoons would be formed and delivered.