Zygier scuttled operation to repatriate Israeli soldiers’ bodies

SYDNEY, Australia (JTA) – Ben Zygier, the Australian-born Mossad agent formerly known as Prisoner X, unwittingly scuttled an operation to return the bodies of three Israeli soldiers missing in Lebanon, Australian television reported.

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A report by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation which aired Tuesday night in Australia claimed Zygier’s attempts to redeem himself in the eyes of his Mossad superiors backfired, prompting the Mossad to abort its mission to repatriate the bodies of Zachary Baumel, Yehuda Katz and Tzvi Feldman, who died in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley during Israel’s invasion in 1982.

Zygier blew the cover off the secret operation by exposing Ziad Al-Homsi as a Mossad agent, according to the report.

Al-Homsi, a former commander of Lebanese forces in the Bekaa Valley, told the ABC he was first recruited by the Mossad in 2007 and later asked to help exhume the corpses after being given their precise location by the Israelis.

But the mission was exposed after Zygier, who was trying to turn a Hezbollah activist into a Mossad agent, revealed Al-Homsi’s name in a bid to prove his credentials.

The Hezbollah agent told Lebanese intelligence sources that Al-Homsi was an informer, and he was soon arrested and jailed, blowing the entire operation to repatriate the corpses.

Zygier, a Melbourne-born graduate of Hashomer Hatzair, was arrested in January 2010 by Israel’s Shin Bet secret service and jailed in secrecy under the name Prisoner X until he took his life 10 months later.

The case was shrouded in secrecy until the ABC exposed Zygier’s identity in February.

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