To what lengths would you go to serve your country? The Israeli press is awash with the extraordinary story of Jewish Mossad agents from Arab countries who took Palestinian wives in order to protect their cover. Report on i24 News (with thanks: Lily):
In 1950, just two years after the establishment of the State of
Israel, the Mossad launched “Project Ulysses,” planting agents deep
undercover to pose as Palestinian refugees and provide intelligence on
Hebrew daily Yedioth Ahronoth on Tuesday exposed the project,
highlighting the story of a single agent, Uri Yisrael, who spent a
record 15 years undercover, marrying a Palestinian woman and raising a
family with her, while providing information on the founding days of the
PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organization).
Yisrael was one of a group of Jewish immigrants from Arab countries
who were enlisted into the spy agency in 1950. According to the report,
then Mossad chief Iser Harel convinced them to join project Ulysses by
telling them it was a vital national mission.
The men, some of them younger than 20, were ordered to sever ties
with their families and placed in a training facility in Jaffo. For a
year and a half, they were taught the arts of espionage, studied Islam
and perfected their cover stories.
“There were some excruciating moments,” recalled unit commander Sami
Moriah. “When I would deliver letters from the trainees to their
families, one of the mothers begged me to let her see her son. ‘Let me
have a glimpse of him, even for two minutes, even from afar, just so I
know my boy is alright,’ she pleaded. There were many tears, but I
couldn’t allow it because it would interrupt their process of taking on a
Nine agents completed the process and were embedded in the Arab
Israeli population. Their mission was to warn of uprisings and to
infiltrate the Palestinian Diaspora in Arab countries.
The report described how two of the agents who posed as Palestinian
refugees who had crossed into Israel from Jordan, were beaten by Israeli
policeman after Palestinian informants reported their arrival to an
Um-El-Fahm inn. Moriah said he and the other Mossad officials could do
nothing to prevent the beatings because they couldn’t break their cover.
While most of project Ulysses’s agents returned to Israel in 1959,
two of them — Yisrael and another one, whose name is still classified
under censorship laws — were encouraged by their Mossad handlers to
remain undercover. Still pretending to be hate-filled anti-Zionist
Palestinian nationals, the men got married and raised families. To this
day, Yisrael’s son (who is now in his fifties and lives abroad) does not
know his father was really a Mossad agent.