Yitzhak Hofi, controversial head of Israeli Mossad, dead at 87

Yitzhak HofiBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org
Yitzhak Hofi, who led the Israeli covert-action agency Mossad during one of its most important periods, has died at the age of 87. Born in Tel Aviv during the time of the British Mandate of Palestine, Hofi rose through the ranks of the Israeli Defense Forces before assuming directorship of the Mossad in 1974. The young Hofi joined the Palmach, an elite unit of the Haganah, which was the most militant wing of the Zionist community in Palestine. The British occupation forces designated the Haganah a terrorist organization at the time. After Israel was formally established, Hofi was one of many members of the Palmach that formed the founding backbone of the IDF. Having fought in the 1948 Palestine War, Hofi rose through the ranks of the IDF throughout the next three decades, serving in the 1967 Six-Day War and the 1973 Yom Kippur War. Following the end of that conflict, an internal government investigation found that David Elazar, the IDF’s Chief of Staff, was personally responsible for many of Israel’s military failures during the clashes. Elazar was forced to resign in 1974, and Hofi served in his place for a brief period in an interim capacity. But he resigned in protest after Israel’s Defense Minister at the time, Moshe Dayan, appointed his protégé Motta Gur to the post. A few months later, Israel’s newly elected Prime Minister, Yitzhak Rabin, asked Hofi to assume the directorship of the Mossad. Hofi accepted Rabin’s nomination and went on to lead the Israeli intelligence agency until 1982, during one of the Jewish state’s most important periods. Although his allies credit him with exerting a moderate style of leadership, his critics blame him for forging close ties between the Mossad and the rightwing Kataeb Party in Lebanon. In September of 1982, Kataeb’s Phalangist militia members perpetrated the Sabra and Shatila massacres, in which as many as 3,500 civilians, most of them Palestinians and Lebanese Shiites, were killed, some say with direct Israeli complicity. At the same time, however, Hofi’s political maneuvering in Morocco laid the groundwork for the secret summit in Rabat between Israel and Egypt. The talks led to the 1979 peace treaty between the two countries, and prompted the historic visit by Egyptian President Anwar Sadat to the Jewish state. Read more of this post

Mossad ‘tried to kill’ Saddam Hussein using ‘exploding book’

Saddam HusseinBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Israeli intelligence tried unsuccessfully to kill Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein in the 1970s using a bomb disguised as a book. This revelation is included in a new documentary film, which was aired on Monday evening on Israel’s Channel 1 television. The documentary, entitled Sealed Lips, focuses on the life and intelligence exploits of Yitzhak Hofi. Known informally as “Khaka”, Hofi was the fifth Director of the Mossad, Israel’s foremost covert-action intelligence agency, which he led form 1974 to 1982.  Aside from Hofi, who is still living in Israel, aged 85, the film includes interviews with five other former Directors of the Mossad, as well as with some of the agency’s best-known covert-action operatives. One of them is Brigadier General (ret.) Tzuri Sagi, said to have been the mastermind behind the plan to kill Hussein, who had assumed power in Iraq following a coup in 1968. According to the documentary, as soon as the Mossad tasked Sagi with assassinating Hussein, he employed the best-known bomb-maker in the Israeli intelligence and security services, known by his operational name, “Natan”. “Natan” put together a carefully constructed explosive device, which was hidden inside an Arabic-language book. The device was wired to detonate once the front cover of the book was opened. The film suggests that the Mossad did manage to find a way for the book to reach the Iraqi leader. However, Hussein appeared suspicious about the book and had one of his close aides, an unnamed senior Iraqi government official, open it. Read more of this post

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