February 27, 2010
Israelis rush to join Mossad after Mahmoud al-Mabhouh killing
Peter Elvinger of France
Glasses like those worn by some suspects are flying off the shelves
Sheera Frenkel, Jerusalem
Would you be prepared to cross-dress? And kill a guest in an adjacent hotel room? If the answer to these questions is a resounding “yes”, and you can also act, enjoy luxury international travel with a twist and can carry off a convincing Irish or Australian accent, then the job could be yours.
The Israeli spy agency Mossad may be the target of international reproach since it allegedly killed the Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in a Dubai hotel this month, but at home emerging details of the operation have generated Mossad mania.
It has never been more popular in Israel, with stores selling out of Mossad memorabilia and its official website reporting a soaring number of visitors interested in applying to become agents. “Mossad has been restored to its glory days,” said Ilan Mizrahi, a former deputy director of the agency, which is located in the affluent beach town of Herzliya, north of Tel Aviv.
Israel has neither confirmed nor denied its involvement in Mr al-Mabhouh’s death — despite increasingly confident announcements by Dubai police that they have linked Mossad to the killing. Of the 28 suspects named, 11 share identities with Israelis who hold dual citizenship.
Governments across the world are lambasting Israel for what it considers a sloppy job done by agents who were caught on CCTV and may have left behind DNA. In Israel, the operation is being touted as a job well done. Israelis are discussing the killing with a wink, a nod, and pride in the agency, offically known as the Institute for Intelligence and Special Operations.
Opticians have reported a rise in sales of the horn-rimmed glasses in the style worn by 14 of the 26 suspects, T-shirts with Mossad logos are selling out at stores and the agency has experienced a flood of applicants.
Although no new jobs have been posted for half a year, a new statement on the Mossad website reads: “You have an opportunity to create a new reality where you can play the leading role. If you possess intelligence and sophistication, you can make a difference and fulfil a national mission. If you can engage, charm and influence people — you may have the qualities we are looking for.”
Elad, 21, had been dreaming of joining Mossad for years, but filed an application this week, the news site Ynet reported. “I ran to a computer and applied for a job,” Elad told Ynet. “I’ve always had a dream to work for the Mossad. It’s obvious why – it’s exciting, dangerous and special. Nobody really knows what people do there, and now I suddenly understand how it works. It’s cool. I hope they accept me. I think I have all the required skills.”
The Mossad website says that candidates must hold an academic degree and good command of at least two languages. Preference is given to people with experience abroad and an ability to begin work immediately.
If the reports by Dubai police are correct, the assassination and surveillance team of nearly 30 agents so far exposed would represent a sizeable number of Mossad agents who would no longer be able to engage in covert espionage.
Photographs of the alleged assassins have been published across the world and studied by a number of governments.
An inquiry by Haaretz newspaper announced this week that the photographs were doctored so that the agents could not be identified. Details such as eye colour or contours of the nose and lips were altered slightly to make it difficult for facial recognition software to identify the individuals, Haaretz said.