I know I keep saying this to you–that the more Israeli intelligence stories I report the broader I have to expand my definition of bizarre and outlandish. This one is another in this series. Back at the end of January, I reported that Israel had detained a boat in the Red Sea which contained missiles destined either to Hamas or Hezbollah. I relied on stories in WND and Israel’s Walla news portal, trumpeting the capture of a major gun-running operation aimed at supplying Israel’s enemies with tools to commit mayhem against it.
A confidential Israeli source told me the story had been put under gag and could no longer be covered inside Israel. Unfortunately, my source wasn’t able to follow-up on what happened later.
An enterprising Israeli reporter for Yediot filed a request to publish a story blowing the lid off the case, and the military censor could no longer keep it under censorship for reasons I’ll explain. It turns out that Israel had kidnapped Yemeni fisherman who were doing nothing more than following their profession and catching fish (as is common in the region, they supplemented their income by smuggling hashish as well, from Yemen to Egypt). Though no weapons were found, the Israeli navy officers suspected the fisherman were gun runners as well. It arrested these dangerous “brigands” and took them to Israel where it threw them into prison. All in secret. They were interrogated for some time. Their fishing boat was torn apart in the search for weapons. An Israeli judge even prolonged their detention claiming there was a “strong suspicion” they were weapons smugglers.
But the secret police could find nothing: no weapons, no plans, no secret codes. Israel then dropped them as unceremoniously as it had arrested them. But it didn’t even offer them a gold watch or parting present for their troubles.
An Israeli official involved in the aftermath of the case said:
I don’t know who they thought they were arresting, but these guys were very small fish in the sea.
After the intelligence folks were done, the State didn’t quite know what to do with them. It wanted to expel them (imagine being expelled from a country you never wanted to enter to begin with!). But that turned out to be anything but a simple matter.
Israel defines Yemen as a “hostile state.” Meaning it refuses to have any official dealings with it. So the poor fishermen languished in an Israeli prison for four months while Israel figured out what to do with them. During that period the International Red Cross procured transit documents allowing then to return home.
But the ultimate insult is that as soon as they arrived home, the four fisherman were arrested by Yemeni authorities–because they had been in Israel, an enemy state. Man, if this isn’t a lawsuit waiting to happen. The commander of the Israeli navy vessel who kidnapped these shlumps deserves to be court-martialed for ruining the lives of four innocent men. Instead, he’ll probably become an admiral!
We learn a few lessons from this Kafkaesque story: who do you think spread those outlandish claims of weapons dealing for Hezbollah and Hamas? Either it was the liars at WND or their sources within Israeli intelligence. I’d bet it was the latter, though never underestimate the ability of certain types of yellow journalists to invent their own stories.
This means that Israeli intelligence likely lied through their teeth to justify this act of piracy on the high seas. It means that Israel yet again violated maritime code in order to forcibly kidnap individuals who turned out to have done nothing wrong.
For those of you who harbor the nostalgic notion that the Israeli justice system is independent, think again. The navy never had any evidence they were, yet a judge acceded to the military-intelligence apparatus and offered it carte blanche.
The Israeli military-intelligence apparatus, in case any of you haven’t already gotten this message, is a rogue entity. It does what it wants when it wants and where it wants. It pays no attention to laws or conventions or rights. When you’re in the IDF’s cross-hairs you are like a lion’s prey. There is no regard for the niceties of civilized society.