How did Mossad manage to act within Sudan to bring Ethiopian Jews 'home'?

Former Israeli Mossad agent reveals how they reused an abandoned Italian diving resort in Sudan to smuggle Ethiopian Jews to Israel.

February 11, 2019 15:53
1 minute read.
Pilgrims board a ferry at Suakin port in the Red Sea state

Pilgrims board a ferry at Suakin port in the Red Sea state. (photo credit: REUTERS/MOHAMED NURELDIN ABDALLAH)


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A former Israeli Mossad agent revealed how they reused an abandoned Italian diving resort on the Sudanese shore of the Red Sea to smuggle Ethiopian Jews to Israel in the 1970s.

Gad Shimron, a former Mossad agent, was interviewed for, revealing the steps that brought the Mossad to act within Sudan, an Arab, hostile country toward Israel, to help bring Jewish Ethiopian Jews who had fled a fierce civil war in Ethiopia to Israel.

Shimron said that the Begin told the head of the Mossad to bring the Ethiopian Jews "home," following the chief Rabbi's ruling considering them Jewish, which meant they were eligible to move to Israel under the Law of Return

The Mossad then had to devise a plan that would allow the agents to act within Sudanese land. That is when they decided to use the diving resort as a cover story to allow them to drive freely through the country.

Shimron also noted the uniqueness of the operation, as an intelligence organization working undercover for a humanitarian project, and it being the "first time in African history where 'white people' [liberated] 'black people' in order to free them and not to enslave them."

The number of Ethiopian Jews brought to Israel as a result of the operation stands around 7,000, Shimron estimated, while there were between four to fifteen Mossad agents operating in the country.

The Ethiopian Jews were "smuggled via the Red Sea, and later in aerial operations, with Israeli planes landing in the middle of the Sudanese desert and back directly to Israel." Shimron noted.

In his interview, Shimron pegged the activity, as the Mossad agents felt it to be, as a "Zionist James Bond operation," especially after being shot at, arrested, and interrogated as part of the operation.

A movie starring Ben Kingsley, Haley Bennett and Chris Evans is being made in Hollywood, telling the story of the operation. The movie however, will not be based on Shimron's book, although he hopes the movie is "as close to reality as possible," as well as give the viewers the feel of how great it is to belong to a country that "no other nation is doing."

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