LONDON (Jul. 24)
Britain has expelled five Israelis, alleged to be counterterrorist agents of Mossad, Israel’s foreign intelligence service.
They were linked to a Palestinian double agent now serving an 11-year prison sentence for illegal possession of arms and explosives.
Unlike the Israeli Embassy attache deported last month, those expelled with their families last week had no diplomatic status. They were operating apparently under the cover of a private business.
British security forces reportedly confirmed that the five left as a result of direct pressure from the British government.
But official British and Israeli circles here refused to comment on a report Sunday in the London Telegraph that the five Mossad agents were connected to Ismail Sawan, 28, a Palestinian who confessed to being a spy for Israel.
On June 17, Britain expelled a member of the Israeli Embassy staff, Arye Regev, in connection with the Sawan case. The British alleged Regev was a Mossad operative.
Sawan was convicted and sentenced last month for storing weapons for Abdul Rahmim Mustapha, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s elite Force 17 and bodyguard of PLO chief Yasir Arafat.
Mustapha was wanted by the British authorities in connection with the murder here last year of Ali Adhami, an Arab cartoonist. Sawan testified in court that he had kept the Mossad informed of Mustapha’s movements.
The British were furious with the Israelis for not sharing the information they were getting from Sawan. Their anger prompted Regev’s expulsion — a move that enraged Israeli officials but provoked no corresponding diplomatic response.