Paranoia has broken out in Israel: the security authorities are said to have failed to foresee the massive, coordinated attack by Hamas. One of the country’s largest newspapers accuses Netanyahu of ignoring a warning from Egyptian intelligence. Experts assume that Hamas completely refrained from using electronic communication during its preparations.
The central problem, however, is the infiltration of Israel by Russian secret services, which at the same time promote and to a certain extent control the Palestinian groups.
Shimon Levinson was a senior Israeli intelligence officer who was arrested in 1991 for spying for the Soviet Union. He is considered one of the highest-ranking KGB moles in Israel. In March 1963, he was recruited by the Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security service, and served in its Jerusalem field office as head of a security clearance team. In 1965, at his own request, he was transferred to the Mossad, the Israeli foreign secret service, where he was assigned to carry out credibility checks.
In April 1983, Levinson entered the Soviet embassy in Bangkok and offered to spy for the KGB, hoping to make enough money to get out of his financial problems. He later admitted to his Shin Bet interrogators that his only motivation was money. Levinson spied for the Soviet Union for a total of seven years, earning $31,000 – far less than he had hoped for. Levinson was sent to Moscow for tests. He was trained in the Soviet methods of coded messages, radio communications and secret meetings and briefed on what information the KGB was interested in.
Thus, he provided the structure of the Israeli intelligence community and detailed information, including names and details of units, subunits, identities of their chiefs and their functioning, details of the Israeli Foreign Ministry and even original documents to the KGB, as well as information about US intelligence officers working with Israeli intelligence agencies in be in contact. He also described Israel’s political system to them.
Levinson was named chief security officer. This new job gave him access to all secret information available to the Prime Minister and handed it over to the KGB. In May 1991, Mossad identified Levinson as a spy based on information from a foreign source. He was lured back to Israel from abroad and arrested at Ben-Gurion International Airport. During his interrogation he made a full confession. During his imprisonment, his cellmate was Marcus Klingberg, another convicted Soviet spy.
The Klingberg case is considered one of the most devastating espionage scandals in the history of the State of Israel. In 1935 Klingberg began studying medicine at the University of Warsaw. When the Second World War began with the German attack on Poland in 1939, Klingberg fled to the Soviet Union. There he completed his medical studies in Minsk. In 1943 he attended the postgraduate course in epidemiology at the Central Institute for Advanced Medical Education in Moscow and graduated with honors. That same year, he was part of a team that stopped an epidemic in the Urals. He was head of the Department of Preventive Medicine and subsequently founded and directed the Central Research Laboratories for Military Medicine.
In 1957 he joined the top-secret Israel Institute for Biological Research (IIBR) in Ness Ziona (south of Tel Aviv), where he served as deputy scientific director (until 1972). Until 1978 he was also head of the Department of Epidemiology. As deputy director of the Israel Institute for Biological Research, he was crucial to a chemical and biological weapons program. Klingberg renewed his contacts with Soviet intelligence and began espionage in the 1950s.
Klingberg provided information about activities in Israel’s chemical and biological fields. Mossad and Shin Bet began suspecting Klingberg of espionage in the 1960s. He was interrogated using harsh methods and pressured to confess. After ten days, Klingberg admitted to being a Soviet mole and signed a confession. He claimed that he only provided information to the Soviet Union for ideological reasons. However, he told his interrogators that he had not completed his medical studies and did not have a diploma and that the KGB had used this to blackmail him. In an interview in 2014, he said he also felt like he owed the Russians something for saving the world from the Nazis. He said he had always been a communist and recruited his wife Wanda and two friends.
Klingberg was tried in secret and sentenced to 20 years in prison. For the first ten years of his 20-year sentence, he was held in solitary confinement in a maximum security prison under a false name and a fictitious job.
KGB files reportedly revealed the existence of an extensive Soviet spy ring in Israel that included Knesset members, senior IDF officers, engineers, members of Israeli intelligence, and others working on secret projects. The documents were copied over a 20-year period by Vasili Mitrokhin, a senior KGB archivist who defected to Britain in 1992. In the 1950s, the KGB targeted the left-wing Mapam party and recruited at least three MKs, according to records.
Mitrokhin wrote that the agent was MK Elazar Granot, who later served as party leader and was a member of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee in the 1980s. Granot’s son Dan told Yedioth that he remembered Kotov’s nightly visits from his childhood.
The Soviet agent would arrive in a diplomatic car, bringing “excellent vodka and great Hungarian sausages.” Another agent revealed in Mitrokhin documents was codenamed “Boker” and was a senior engineer on a top-secret national project. A third was “Jimmy,” who had access to classified information about the Israeli aerospace industry and was involved in the construction of the ill-fated Lavi aircraft. Another Soviet spy was part of the team behind the Israeli Merkava tank. But the Russians’ biggest recruit was an IDF general.
According to research by an Israeli broadcaster, Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinians, is said to have worked for the Soviet secret service in Damascus in the 1980s. His code name was “Kortov”. Researchers are said to have discovered Abbas’ name on a 1983 list of KGB sources in the Syrian capital.
The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and Abbas maintained close relations with the Soviet Union during the Cold War. PLO founder Yasser Arafat had already been received in Moscow at the end of the 1960s.
Abbas submitted a dissertation at Moscow University in 1982.
After the defeat of the Soviet-controlled Arab states in the 1967 Six-Day War, the Soviet Union launched a comprehensive covert campaign against Israel that included propaganda as well as direct military support (financing, weapons, training) to terrorist groups that declared Israel their enemy.
In addition, the USSR decided to increase anti-Israel sentiment by spreading anti-Zionist propaganda. The overall goal of the campaign was to spread the idea that the State of Israel was an oppressive, imperialist state.
Former KGB chairman Yuri Andropov said:
“We just have to keep repeating our theses that the United States and Israel are fascists, imperial Zionist countries financed by rich Jews.”
The book “KGB and Soviet Disinformation: An Insider’s View” was written by Ladislav Bittman, a former intelligence officer who specialized in disinformation for the Czech secret service (1985).
The book “Disinformation”, written by former spy chief Lieutenant General Ion Mihai Pacepa and Prof. Ronald Rychlak (2013), revealed further details. According to Pacepa, the “Palestinian Liberation Army” was invented by the KGB. The KGB drafted the Palestinian National Charter and carefully selected the 422 members of the PLO Council. According to Pacepa, the KGB had selected Yasser Arafat.
The KGB trained Arafat at “its special forces school, Balashikha, east of Moscow, and in the mid-1960s decided to train him to become a future PLO leader” (Pacepa, 2003). In a conversation with KGB Chairman Yuri Andropov in February 1972, Andropov told Pacepa that the KGB was converting Arafat’s Marxist ideals into a fanatical anti-Zionist.
Dalin (2005) writes:
“The PLO recruited two former Nazi instructors, Erich Altern, a head of the Gestapo’s Jewish Affairs Department, and Willy Berner, an SS officer at the Mauthausen death camp.”
Another former Nazi, Johann Schuller, was caught supplying weapons to Fatah. The Belgian Jean Tireault, secretary of the neo-Nazi La Nation Européenne, was also on Fatah’s payroll. Another Belgian, the neo-Nazi Karl van der Put, was recruited by the PLO.
The Mitrokhin documents say that the KGB began recruiting Mahmoud Abbas around 1979, when he arrived in Moscow for graduate studies. During his lifetime, Arafat managed to put aside one to three billion US dollars in his private accounts (McDermott, 2003).
The same applies to Arafat’s deputy and, after Arafat’s death, to his successor Abbas.
“Billions of euros in European aid to the Palestinians may have been misspent, wasted or lost through corruption,”
says a damning report from the European Court of Auditors, the Luxembourg-based regulator (Pancevski, 2013).
Up to 81% of Palestinians believe the Palestinian Authority institutions are corrupt. In 1977, Zahir Muhsein, a member of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization, admitted in an interview with a Dutch newspaper (Dorsey, 1977):
“The Palestinian people do not exist. The creation of the Palestinian state is only a means of continuing our fight against the State of Israel for our Arab unity. In reality, today there is no difference between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. Only for political and tactical reasons do we speak today of the existence of a Palestinian people… to oppose Zionism.
The oldest academic journal to identify Arab Palestinians as a people was the Journal of Palestine Studies, founded in 1972, five years after Operation SIG began. US Special Envoy to the Middle East Jason Greenblatt is quoted as saying the Palestinian Authority pays more than $13,000,000 a month to terrorists. (Jaffe-Hoffman, 2019a).
David Meir-Levi (2007b) writes:
“Arafat was particularly impressed by Ho Chi Minh’s success at de r mobilization of leftists. Left-wing sympathizers in Europe and the United States, where activists at American universities enthusiastically followed the [propaganda] line of North Vietnamese activists, had succeeded in reframing the Vietnam War from a communist attack on the South into a struggle for national liberation.
Arafat and his lieutenants said that they, too, would have to redefine the framing of their struggle to be successful.