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Egyptian Woman Who Spied for Israel Tells Story After Decade of Silence

November 28, 1989
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An Egyptian woman who once spied for Israel with her husband has broken her decade-long silence on the affair with a complaint that the Israeli authorities are neglecting her.

The woman, who now lives in Israel, claims her husband gave Israel advance warning of the Yom Kippur War.

Her story has revived the controversy over why Israel was unprepared when the Egyptian and Syrian armies struck suddenly on Yom Kippur 1973. Israel suffered nearly 3,000 dead or missing in a month of fighting.

Inshrah Shahin, 45, who converted to Judaism and changed her name to Dina Ben-David, has no regrets about spying for the Jewish state.

But she is bitter over her economic condition, considering that she and her late husband, Ibrahim Shahin, worked for Israeli intelligence from 1967 until they were caught in 1974.

“I photographed every airport, every military base and every bridge in Cairo,” she told reporters Sunday. “The films were hidden in puppets and sent to Israel. Every six months we sent more than 40 rolls of film.”

Ibrahim, a Palestinian from Ramla, was hanged by the Egyptians in January 1977. Inshrah was sentenced to death but pardoned by President Anwar Sadat and released in a prisoner exchange.

She and her three sons fled to Israel 10 years ago and adopted Hebrew names. Nabil, Mohammed and Adel are now Yossi, Haim and Rafi.


The story unfolded this week because the military censor feared the family would sell it to a foreign news organization, which would then publish a distorted version damaging to Israel.

According to Rafi Ben-David, his father warned Israel that war was imminent in 1973, but his messages were ignored.

His mother acknowledged that she and her husband had spied for money. Each was paid $1,750 a month. After coming to Israel, the government paid each of her children $25,000, but she received nothing, the woman claimed.

She said she works as a cook for $500 a month. One son is a cook, another a waiter and the third a student at a university in Cairo.

“We’ve lived here several years, and no one knows who we are and how much we contributed to the State of Israel,” Rafi Ben-David said. “My father paid with his life. And now, for his sake, I want the entire country to know who was Ibrahim Shahin.”

Security sources tended to play down the family’s part in Israel’s intelligence network in Egypt. They were employed to gather basic information. They never passed on “significant warnings on the Yom Kippur War,” said one source.

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