David Calling

The David Pryce-Jones blog.

The Strange Story of Ben Zygier


The story of Ben Zygier, emerging in dribs and drabs, is as absorbing as it is strange. He was a young Australian who emigrated to Israel. There he had passports in names other than his, and not all identifiable as Jewish or Israeli. Mossad, I presume. When a team of Mossad agents went into Dubai in January 2010 and assassinated Mahmoud al-Mabhoud, the man responsible for arming Hamas, some of them were using Australian passports. Was Zygier somehow involved in that? What we know is that in December 2010 he was found hanged in a prison cell in Israel. Not any old cell either, but one of maximum security built to keep in solitary confinement the young man who shot Yitzhak Rabin dead. What was the accusation? Nothing is known so far about a trial, or a sentence. According to reports, Zygier’s warders did not even know his name.

One theory with currency is that on some trip back to Australia he informed agents there about Mossad’s use of Australian passports. They must have found that out anyhow, and the tip-off, if tip-off it was, hardly seems a reason for putting Zygier away in a maximum-security jail, and even less reason for Zygier to hang himself. Bob Carr, the Australian Foreign Minister, tilts more towards the Palestinians than the Israelis, and he is making mileage out of this business. Prime Minister Netanyahu has let drop some cryptic words about the necessity to keep state secrets under wraps.

Naturally I have no idea of the reality, but the sole frightful treason that Zygier could have committed would be to inform the Iranians of measures to be taken against them. Discovery might be enough to prompt his superiors to put him away in that maximum security jail. Realization of what he had done might have been enough to push him to hang himself. There is bound to be speculation that Mossad will have murdered him. From what I know of Israel, that is inconceivable. I cannot help feeling that Zygier’s fate will prove like a large rock rolling down a mountain, gathering pace and crushing whoever and whatever it hits at the bottom.


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