Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Israeli Connection

Israelis are justifiably proud today to have learned last night that a sizeable group of agents from the Mossad and the Shin Bet were involved in the dramatic and successful release of hostages in Colombia who had been imprisoned for five years.

Israeli TV Channels 2 and 10 broke the news last night, saying that for the first time it could be reported that the Israelis were "intimately involved in great depth" in the successful liberation of the captives, along with their American counterparts.

Ingrid Betancourt, the Colombia politician who was restored to her family (pictured above embracing her daughter) said in her statement to reporters after her release: "I am not aware of a precedent to such a perfect mission. Maybe only the Israelis with their wonderful commandos may be reminiscent of the mission that took place here."

Betancourt's reference to Israel's military history is not by chance. Last year, a group of Israeli military advisors, receiving approval from the Israeli Defense Ministry, resided in Colombia in order to assist the army there and especially the special units.

The Israeli mission was focused mainly on intelligence issues, special operations and integration and coordination between different security elements. This was in order to prepare them for a coordinated and productive campaign within a short period of time. The group was headed by Major-General (Res.) Israel Ziv, who served as the head of operations in the elite Sayeret Matkal unit up until four years ago.

Ziv and at least some of his men have already returned to Israel but the assistance the Israeli team provided to the Colombian security forces assisted them in attaining the list of successes they have been achieving lately against the FARC rebel organization, most notably the "perfect" rescue of the hostages.

The TV announcer said last night, "The names of the agents involved will never be made public but they are in fact our anonymous heroes."

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