Friday, April 20, 2018

Mossad set up sham resort to smuggle out Ethiopian Jews

This amazing story - improbably featured on the BBC website - demonstrates how far Israel has been prepared to go to fulfil its humanitarian missions to rescue Jews in distress.   The article reveals how the Israeli secret service, the Mossad, established a  Red Sea diving resort in the Sudan as a base for its operatives. The resort, which attracted bona fide tourists, and even made money, was a front for the smuggling of thousands of Ethiopian Jews through Sudan and on to Israel.  A film based on the book by Mossad agent Gad Shimroni is soon to be released. (With thanks: Lily; Janet)

Mossad agent Gad Shimroni at the Red Sea 'resort' of Arous in the Sudan

"For us it was a godsend (says one Mossad agent). If we could get hold of this place and do it up, we could say we're running a diving village, which would give us a reason for being in Sudan and furthermore for roaming around near the beach."

What happened next is the subject of a soon-to be released Hollywood film called Red Sea Diving Resort. Filmed in Namibia and South Africa, it tells the story of the operation and the village. Though while it is based on true events, some of the scenes are fictitious.

Completed in 1972 by Italian entrepreneurs, the resort was a cluster of 15 red-roofed bungalows, a kitchen and a large dining room opening out to the beach, a lagoon and the sea.
However, with no electricity, water supply or even a road, the Italians found the project impossible and the resort never opened.

"It's a very difficult place to run, if you don't have the Mossad behind you," says the unidentified agent.

Using false passports, a group of agents posing as employees of a Swiss operating company went to Sudan, convinced the authorities of their business proposition, and rented the village for three years for $320,000 (£225,000).

They spent the first year renovating it and struck a deal with local suppliers for fresh water and fuel.

The resort was also kitted out with Israeli-made equipment, including air-conditioning units, outboard motors, and top-of-the-range water sports gear, all smuggled into the country.

"We introduced windsurfing to Sudan," says Gad, smiling. "The first board was brought in - I knew how to windsurf, so I taught the guests. Other Mossad agents posed as professional diving instructors."

They also recruited about 15 local staff, including chambermaids, waiters, a driver and a chef "poached" from a hotel. "We paid him double," says the unnamed operative. None of the staff knew the resort's real purpose, or that their Caucasian managers were Mossad spies.

Female agents were put in charge of the day-to day running of the place, which it was thought would lower any suspicions.

The diving storeroom was out-of-bounds. In it were concealed radios the agents used to keep in regular contact with headquarters back in Tel Aviv.

While seeing to their guests by day, every so often at night a squad would leave under cover of darkness and head to a rendezvous point 10km (six miles) south of Gedaref.

"We'd tell the staff we're going to Khartoum for a few days, or to meet some Swedish nurses from the hospital in Kassala," says Gad.

They would pick up groups of Ethiopian Jews, smuggled out of the camps by so-called Committee Men - a handful of Beta Israelis recruited for the job.

"The Ethiopian Jews were given no notice, as we could not risk word getting out," says Gad. "They did not even know we were Israelis. We told them we were mercenaries."

Thousands of Ethiopian Jews were airlifted to Israel after it became too risky to transport them by ship.

From there, a convoy of lorries carrying dozens of bewildered refugees drove a two-day - 800km - journey, evading detection at numerous checkpoints along the way by a combination of guile, bribery and occasionally ramming their way through.

At breaks, they would try to pacify the frightened passengers.
"When we let them sit in the driver's cabin and touch the wheel, they were in seventh heaven," Gad says, in his book Mossad Exodus. "It was amazing to see how happy they were at sharing a piece of chewing gum among 20 children. They looked at us as though we were creatures from outer space."

When they got to the beach, north of the holiday village, Israeli navy special forces would come ashore on Zodiac dinghies, collect the refugees and transport them a further hour and a half to a waiting naval vessel, the INS Bat Galim.
The ship then took them to Israel.

Read article in full

1 comment:

Heather said...

More. From a few months ago: