Red Sea Spies: The True Sto­ry of Mossad’s Fake Div­ing Resort

  • Review
By – November 22, 2021

The Mossad, the Insti­tute for Intel­li­gence and Spe­cial Oper­a­tions, is the nation­al intel­li­gence agency of Israel. They have, over the years, com­plet­ed many secret mis­sions. One incred­i­ble mis­sion is being shared now with the pub­lic; the sto­ry of how they assist­ed thou­sands of Ethiopi­an Jews to make the jour­ney to Israel.

Raf­fi Berg has writ­ten the defin­i­tive work on the exploits of the Mossad, who helped Ethiopi­an Jews who were walk­ing hun­dreds of kilo­me­ters across dan­ger­ous ter­rain in their effort to reach Jerusalem. What start­ed as small groups of escapees using fake cre­den­tials to fly out of the Sudan to Israel grew into large groups of peo­ple being smug­gled out of the coun­try on boats, which final­ly led to major air­lifts out of the desert in the dead of night.

It is a fas­ci­nat­ing sto­ry of brav­ery, ded­i­ca­tion and sub­terfuge. The Mossad agents who took part in this project were nev­er allowed to tell any­one what they were doing, not even their families.

When they were being hired to par­tic­i­pate, they were not told what the job would be until after they had passed a series of tests and agreed to take on the mission.

The Ethiopi­an Jew­ish com­mu­ni­ty has exist­ed for cen­turies, dri­ven by an ances­tral long­ing to return to the land of their fore­fa­thers. It wasn’t until 1977 when Men­achem Begin rec­og­nized them as true mem­bers of the Jew­ish com­mu­ni­ty that Israel began to assist in their immigration.

Dani Limor is the leg­end behind this oper­a­tion, along with Ferede Aklum, an Ethiopi­an whose deter­mi­na­tion to escape to Jerusalem brought him to the atten­tion of the Israeli agency. He and Limor, who led the evac­u­a­tion oper­a­tion, laid the foun­da­tion of a secret net­work of Mossad oper­a­tives that would use naval and air sup­port from Israel to deliv­er thou­sands of Ethiopi­an Jew­ish refugees to Israel.

The idea of tak­ing an aban­doned resort, ren­o­vat­ing it, and open­ing it up as a tourist des­ti­na­tion was a bril­liant cov­er for the Mossad agents work­ing to help refugees onto boats head­ing for Israel. Tourists would enjoy going out on boats, div­ing and snorkelling dur­ing the day. At the end of the day, relax in the friend­ly atmos­phere of the games room. Have a refresh­ing drink, a game of darts and then an excel­lent meal in the Arous restau­rant, where fresh fish is served dai­ly,” read the brochure for the resort. The resort was, explained the pam­phlet, unique in all the world.” This claim was actu­al­ly true. What the guests nev­er knew was that the div­ing instruc­tors who showed them how to scu­ba dive and took them out on excur­sions dur­ing the day were, in fact, Mossad divers who helped bring the Ethiopi­an Jews onto boats just off the coast after dark.

This book reads like a fas­ci­nat­ing thriller, explain­ing the his­to­ry of the Ethiopi­an refugees, their Jew­ish prac­tices and com­mit­ment to tak­ing dar­ing chances to return to their home­land. Look­ing at the Israeli government’s accep­tance of the Ethiopi­an Jews and how it became the most impor­tant project of Limor’s career and the Mossad to assist these peo­ple in their journey.

Mer­le Eis­man Car­rus resides in New Hamp­shire. She received her Mas­ters of Jew­ish Stud­ies from Hebrew Col­lege and is a grad­u­ate of Emer­son Col­lege. Mer­le is the Nation­al Pres­i­dent of the Bran­deis Nation­al Com­mit­tee. She leads books dis­cus­sion groups and author inter­views. She writes book reviews for var­i­ous pub­li­ca­tions. She blogs her book reviews at biteofthebookworm@​blogspot.​com

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