JERUSALEM (Feb. 25)
Two Mossad agents were arrested in Geneva last week for attempting to spy on an embassy there, Swiss media have reported.
Swiss diplomatic sources confirmed that the arrests took place, but there were conflicting reports as to whether the agents were attempting to spy on the Iraqi or the Iranian Embassy in Geneva.
Israeli media reported Wednesday that the failure of a Mossad operation last week in Western Europe led in part to the resignation of the head of the foreign intelligence agency, Danny Yatom.
Yatom resigned Tuesday, a week after a government inquiry held him responsible for the failed assassination attempt last September on a Hamas leader in Jordan.
Because of restrictions imposed on reporting the story of the latest Mossad failure, Israel Television initially said the incident had occurred in a Western European country that has “one of the most friendly” relations with Israel.
Details of the incident were barred from publication because “a person’s life depends on it,” Israel Television reported, adding that the foul-up had threatened Israel’s relations with the country in which it took place.
Israeli officials are reportedly negotiating with Swiss officials for the releases of the two agents.
The report said that a Knesset subcommittee on the security services had been briefed on the incident — but only after the committee chair, Uzi Landau, first heard of it from another source, and then approached Yatom to verify if it was true.
The report expanded upon a story appearing Wednesday in the Israeli daily Yediot Achronot that a recent failure by the Mossad was possibly linked to Yatom’s decision to resign Tuesday.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu refused to comment about the Israeli news reports.
Yatom agreed, at Netanyahu’s request, to stay on until a new director is appointed.
Though Netanyahu had approved the plan to assassinate Khaled Mashaal, the government-appointed commission probing the affair last week cleared him of any blame.
The commission, headed by a former Defense Ministry director general, Yosef Chekhanover, reserved its criticism for Yatom, saying he bore “a heavy responsibility” for the flawed mission.