Charges dismissed against Israeli general accused of outing Egyptian spy

Israel’s Attorney General has dismissed all charges against a former Director of the country’s Military Intelligence, who had been accused of leaking the identity of an Egyptian spy found dead in London in 2007. General Eli Zeira, 84, had been investigated as a possible source of the leak that identified Egyptian businessman Ashraf Marwan as an Israeli spy who worked in London and Cairo in the 1970s. Marwan, the son-in-law of Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser, is said to have approached Israeli intelligence agency Mossad in 1969 during a visit to the Israeli embassy in London. On October 5, 1973, he warned his Israeli handlers that Egyptian and Syrian forces would attack the Jewish state on the next day, thus giving Tel Aviv a last-minute warning of what later came to be known as the Yom Kippur War. However, Marwan was found dead underneath the balcony of his London home in June 2007, five years after his alleged espionage activities were revealed in a book by London-based Israeli historian Ahron Bregman. Marwan’s widow claims that her husband was murdered by intelligence operatives. In 2004, the Israeli government initiated an official investigation into the affair, after allegations that General Eli Zeira, the Director of Israel’s Military Intelligence during the Yom Kippur war, was the source that leaked Marwan’s espionage activities to Bregman. The main force behind the allegations against Zeira was Zvi Zamir, Director of the Mossad from 1968 to 1974. In 2011, Zamir, now 87, wrote a book openly accusing General Zeira, not only of leaking Marwarn’s espionage activities, but also of failing to heed the Egyptian’s warnings in time for Israel to adequately prepare for the Yom Kippur war. Reacting to the allegations, Zeira said that Marwan was probably a double spy for Egypt, and that he was instructed by Cairo to warn the Israelis about the impending attack at the last minute, when it would be too late for Tel Aviv to react in any meaningful way. This way, said Zeira, Marwan’s could enhance his credibility with the Mossad without damaging Arab strategic interests. The dismissal of the charges against General Zeira is expected to put the lid on a 40-year espionage affair, which has revealed deep rifts between Israel’s military and civilian intelligence agencies.

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