February 17, 2013

EDITOR: The New Israel – just like the old Israel, but worse

In the bad old days, people used to disappear in Israel without trace, taken into the kind custody of the ‘security services’ and not be heard of again for years. Israel used to kidnap people in Jordan, Lebanon, and anywhere in Palestine, and hide them away without trial. Today this is not called kidnapping. Oh no! It is called rendering, and it is just fine.

So Israel ‘renders’ one of its own agents, an oddball Australian Jew of the Indiana Jones variety, who apparently took part in the killing of a Hamas official in the Gulf few years ago, and has somehow displeased the powers that be, in what way we know not – and disappears him into the Ayalon prison, in an isolated wing, some three years ago, without name or personal details. Some time later he is found dead, and a secret hearing about his death takes two years, and finds that he supposedly committed suicide. His body is delivered to his family in Australia, and he is buried in great secrecy, as the family is offered a King’s ransom to keep mum.

It is a Jewish democracy, after all.

Netanyahu on Prisoner X affair: Let Israel’s security forces do their work: Haaretz

In prime minister’s first comment on the death of alleged Mossad agent Ben Zygier, Netanyahu says Israel protects the rights of the interrogated as well as freedom of expression, but adds, ‘We are not like other states.’

By  | Feb.17, 2013 | 11:54 AM

Benjamin Netanyahu and  Yochanan Locker -  Olivier Fitoussi - 23.9.2012

Benjamin Netanyahu and Military Secretary [Maj. Gen.] Yochanan Locker in the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem, September 23, 2012. Photo by Olivier Fitoussi

Ben Zygier’s passport.

Ben Zygier’s passport. It’s very hard to find someone who will admit on the record to having being asked to “lend” his or her passport to the Mossad.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday commented for the first time on the Prisoner X affair, after several days of silence by the Israeli government.

“At the opening of the meeting I would like to say that I trust completely the security forces of the State of Israel. They work with endless dedication to ensure that we can live in this land. I also have absolute trust in the legal authorities in the State of Israel.”

“Israel’s security and intelligence forces act under the full supervision of the legal authorities, which are completely independent. In providing for security and enforcing the law, freedom of expression is also protected. But primarily – we are not like the other states.”

“We are an exemplary democratic state and we protect the rights of the interrogated and individual rights no less than any other country. But we are also more threatened and more challenged, and thus we must preserve the proper activities of our security services. Therefore I ask of everyone: Let the security forces continue to work undisturbed, so that we can continue to live in security and tranquility in the State of Israel.”

Australia to conduct its own probe into Prisoner X affair: Haaretz

Australian foreign minister requests that Israel pass over all information surrounding the 2010 imprisonment and death of Australian national and alleged Mossad agent Ben Zygier.

By  | Feb.17, 2013 | 10:00 AM |  2

Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr

Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr Photo by Reuters

Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr has requested that Israel hand over all information at its disposal in the Prisoner X affair, involving the imprisonment and death of Australian national Ben Zygier in Ayalon Prison in 2010.

Speaking to reporters in Sydney on Sunday, Carr asked the government of Israel for information to assist the foreign ministry’s launch of an independent investigation into Zygier’s death and the circumstances of the affair.

“We have asked the Israeli government for a contribution to that report. We want to give them an opportunity to submit to us an explanation of how this tragic death came about,” he said.

Carr also said that he is interested in conducting a comprehensive investigation to assess whether the consular team in Australia’s foreign ministry in Tel Aviv acted sufficiently to examine Zygier’s condition and see whether there were any failures in conduct.

“I need to know what the contact was between Australian agencies and those of Israel, and I need to see what the Israelis want to tell Australia,” he said. “The key is to get all the information.”

At the same time, Carr’s predecessor Kevin Rudd, who was foreign minister at the time of Zygier’s imprisonment and death in 2010, said it was important to investigate what happened and react decisively, as it did following the debacle in which the Mossad used Australian passorts in the Mabhouh assassinationoperation. At the time, the Mossad representative stationed in Canberra was kicked out following an investigation by Australian security forces.

According to Australian media, immediately following Zygier’s arrest in February 2010, the Shin Bet informed its Australian counterpart, the ASIO, regarding details of the investigation. ASIO representatives in Australia’s embassy in Tel Aviv passed the details to the ambassador and a handful of other senior officials in the embassy.

Later this week, the State Prosecutor is expected to publish the results of the probe into Zygier’s death. The circumstances of Zygier’s death were under investigation for about two years in a judicial procedure behind closed doors before Judge Daphna Blatman Kedrai of the Rishon Letzion Magistrate’s Court.

At the conclusion of the procedure about two months ago, Blatman Kedrai determined that Zygier had committed suicide and instructed the prosecution to examine whether there had been neglect in the guarding of the prisoner that justified filing an indictment.

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