This has been percolating for a few days, but I waited to make sense of it. [UPDATE: See Jeanette's important comment.]
Israel has agreed to pay millions in compensation to the family of Ben Zygier, the Israeli-Australian who died in an Israeli prison, a source involved in the affair told Haaretz.
Zygier committed suicide in a Ramle prison in 2010. An ongoing investigation is examining the possibility that his jailers were negligent in failing to prevent the tragedy.
The source said Israel agreed to pay millions of shekels several weeks ago, after an investigation concluded that Zygier’s death had been a suicide and before the affair was exposed by the Australian media.
Zygier had been held under a false identity for security reasons. It has been widely reported that he worked for the Mossad.
A Kuwaiti paper reported Thursday that Zygier had taken part in the assassination of senior Hamas terrorist Mahmoud Al-Mabhouh. Mabhouh died on January 20, 2010 in a hotel in Dubai in a killing widely attributed to Israel.
According to the Kuwaiti report, Zygier had contacted Dubai officials after the assassination and had revealed details of the operation. In exchange, he was promised protection – but Israeli agents found his hiding place and arrested him, the report said.
According to other reports, Zygier had planned to reveal details of Mossad operations to the Australian press, but was arrested before he could do so.
Israeli officials have declined to release details of the case, citing the need to maintain secrecy around certain matters for the sake of state security.
A Mossad agent who might have been part of a hit on a Hamass terrorist, and then might have offered to betray state secrets to a hostile foreign power, was arrested by his masters and held in prison—where he committed suicide. Two years ago.
What has Israel done wrong? They haven’t admitted to the Hamass hit-job, but who could blame them if they did it? And who lets their secret agents spill their secrets? Of course he belongs in jail if that’s what happened. The suicide was a big mistake, but if someone is so committed to taking his own life, he often finds a way (especially a secret agent). Operationally, Israel might have offended Australia by using Australian passports for its agents (if I were Australian security, I’d be pissed), but who hasn’t seen something like that in a Bourne movie? The only mistake was getting caught.
So, there it is, the whole sordid story. For now. Why he turned against Israel has yet to be determined, but it’s telling that he didn’t sell out to Australia (at first), but to an Arab government. If he felt it was wrong to kill terrorists—and the guy was a major league scumbag of a terrorist—he wouldn’t be alone. But then he was in a funny line of work.
I’m sorry he’s dead—he could have served his adopted country well, but he made his choices, and had to live, and die, with them.