Israeli Intelligence, Espionage and Covert Operations -

 From 1961 to the Six Day War

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This timeline covers Israeli intelligence and covert operations from 1961 until the Six Dar War.


Israel Pre-State Intelligence Timeline | Israel Intelligence Timeline - 1948-1956 | Israel Intelligence Timeline 1956-1960 | Israel Intelligence Timeline 1961-1967 | Israel Intelligence Timeline 1968-1973 | Israel Intelligence Timeline 1974-1982 | Israel Intelligence Timeline 1983-1991 | Israel Intelligence Timeline 1992-present 


Intelligence gathering and covert operations  are part of the normal function of any state. Israel has spied, and been spied against. A great deal of the success of Israel, a tiny and weak state for most of its existence, and of the Zionist movement before the creation of the state, was due to its renowned information gathering and covert operations activities, carried out by the Mossad, the IDF and the Shabak. The exploits of Israeli intelligence have been lauded by its friends, and naturally enough, condemned by its enemies. Israeli intelligence has also had a number of failures, and some of them were responsible for key setbacks, such as failure to predict the Yom Kippur War.


These timelines provide detailed accounts of Israeli and Zionist covert activities since 1915.


Further reading:


A Timeline of Zionist and Israeli history provides further context and background  

Additional links Zionism and Israel - historical sources, Photo Gallery of Zionist History  and the history of Zionism and Modern Israel  and  Zionism & its Impact will help round out the picture.

A detailed timeline of the Six Dar War 1967 Six Day War Timeline (chronology)  


 Additional information (off site) Brief History of Israel and Palestine and Labor Zionism  The article  - Anti-Semitism includes a Timeline of Anti-Semitism


Latest Israel News

Israeli Intelligence, Espionage and Covert Operations -

 From 1961 to the Six Day War

Feb. 7, 1961

Eli Cohen is sent to Argentina, where his cover as an Arab businessman, a Syrian émigré named Kamal Amin Ta'abat, is created. Cohen becomes friendly with the local Arab community.

  Professor Kurt Sitta, of the Technion in Haifa, is convicted of espionage for Czechoslovakia and imprisoned for five years.
1962 Cohen moves to Damascus and rents an apartment near the Syrian army general staff headquarters to monitor its activity more conveniently. He builds up his reputation as a generous businessman and a patriot; he becomes friendly with military personnel and members of the Syrian elite, with whom he tours the length and breadth of Syria. By means of these contacts, Cohen collects much information, according to instructions from his handlers in Israeli intelligence, about the Syrian army and leadership. Once every six months, he travels abroad on business, principally to Europe, which allows him to meet his handlers and to visit his family in Bat Yam near Tel Aviv. Mordechai (Motke) Kedar is sentenced to prison for a murder he committed in Argentina, while building his cover story there for an espionage mission behind enemy lines. The director of the Mossad, Isser Harel, initiates Operation Damocles, aimed at threatening German scientists in order to keep them from assisting in Egypt's surface-to-surface missile program.
Jan. 1, 1962
Major General Meir Amit is appointed head of AMAN (military intelligence), replacing Major General Herzog. Herzog was responsible for introducing a scientific approach to intelligence research and for initiating Military Intelligence (MI) liaison with foreign intelligence communities.
Feb. The Mossad launches Operation Tiger to find Yossele Schumacher.
March 31 Yisrael Baer, a former IDF lieutenant colonel, is arrested on suspicion of treason and espionage for the USSR.
May 31Adolf Eichmann is executed after being found guilty of crimes against humanity by an Israeli court.
July Egypt launches four surface- to-surface al-Zafar and al-Kahira missiles. Israel is caught by surprise, as the Israeli intelligence estimate was that Egypt possessed rockets of 35- to 70-mile (60--120 kilometer) range in the initial stages of development. MI publishes a comprehensive paper on the subject of the "Russian doctrine."
Sept. Yossele Schumacher is found by the Mossad safe in Brooklyn, New York, and is returned to his parents in Israel.
1963 The Yadin-Sherf Commission is set up by Israeli prime minister David Ben-Gurion to probe the structure and functioning of the entire Israeli intelligence community in light of the Bad Business in Egypt and a clash regarding German scientists in Egypt.
March 22 Efraim Samuel is caught by the Israeli Security Agency (ISA) spying for Romania. He is subsequently sentenced to six years in prison.
March 26 Meir Amit assumes the position of director of the Mossad while still serving as head of AMAN (military intelligence).
1964 Control of Eli Cohen's activity is transferred from Military Intelligence (MI) to the Mossad as part of the reorganization of the intelligence arms. Operation Yakhin, a joint Mossad and Israeli Navy action to ferry Moroccan Jews to Israel illegally, begins. Major General Aharon Yariv is appointed DMI, serving in this position until Oct. 1972.
Jan. Yosef Harmelin is appointed director of the ISA, which he will hold until 1975; he will subsequently be called back to take up this position again after the 1984 Bus 300 affair.
Jan. 19, 1964 Captain Abbas Hilmi, a pilot in the Egyptian air force dissatisfied with the Nasserist regime, defects to Israel flying a Soviet Yak trainer aircraft. Israel at the time is interested in obtaining the Soviet MiG fighter.
Jan. 18, 1965 The Syrians discover Cohen's true identity, and he is caught. His interrogators try to coerce him into remaining in contact with Israel; he uses this opportunity to inform Israel of his exposure by a special code.
May 18Eli Cohen is hanged in Damascus after being sentenced to death for spying for Israel.
Fall Mossad director Amit and General Muhammad Oufkir, head of Moroccan domestic security, meet in France . They agree that Mossad agents will set a trap for Mehdi Ben-Barka. Ben Barka, former tutor of King Hassan and ex-president of the Moroccan National Consultative Assembly, is now an opponent of the Moroccan government. For the sake of the Moroccan Jews, Israel agrees to find Ben-Barka and thus enable the Moroccan authorities to do with him as they wish.
Oct. 29 A Mossad agent persuades Ben-Barka to leave Geneva, supposedly for a meeting with a film producer in Paris. Three French security officers, cooperating with the Moroccans, arrest Ben-Barka.
Oct. 30Ben-Barka is shot dead by Oufkir or one of his Moroccan agents.
1965 Wolfgang Lotz, an Israeli spy in Egypt, is arrested and imprisoned.
Aug. 16, 1966Iraqi pilot Munir Redfa defects to Israel with his MiG- 21, an act long planned by the Mossad
Fall 19The AMAN (Military intelligence) National Intelligence Estimate maintains that Egypt has no intention of initiating any military move against Israel in 1967, after its war in Yemen.
April 7, 1967The Israel Air Force (IAF) sends planes to destroy Syrian guns on the Golan Heights; Syrian aircraft take off to defend them, and in the ensuing dogfight the IAF downs six Syrian planes with no Israeli losses.
May 13, 1967 The Kremlin conveys spurious information on nonexistent Israel Defense Forces (IDF) troop movements and on American intentions to Anwar Sadat, Nasser's deputy, during a visit to Moscow.
May 14-15 Lead units of two Egyptian divisions roll into the Sinai Peninsula. Nasser places the Egyptian army on full alert. The Israeli intelligence community, having calculated that the Arab armies will not be ready for war until 1969 or 1970, is taken by surprise.
May 19, 1967
Gamal Abdel Nasser President of Egypt; Israel intelligence timeline

Egypt deploys six army divisions to the Sinai. Mossad director Amit suggests that Israel publish aerial reconnaissance photographs of the massive Egyptian deployment; this tactic, according to Amit, would justify Israel's mobilization of its army reserves, begun in the early hours of 16 May. Prime Minister Levi Eshkol rejects the idea.

May 20, 1967 Military Intelligence (AMAN) receives ominous information that Nasser has recalled three Egyptian brigades from Yemen. The same day, Egyptian forces enter Sharm al-Sheikh at the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula.
May 22-23 At midnight Nasser announces the closure of the Strait of Tiran at the entrance to the Gulf of Aqaba, thus sealing Israel's only shipping route through the Red Sea. Israel considers this move a casus belli, and it is accepted as such by the United States, which nonetheless urges restraint.
May 23The Israeli cabinet holds a briefing, with the participation of AMAN (Military Intelligence) director Yariv, and concludes that with the closure of the Strait of Tiran it is now merely a question of time until a military response is required.
May 30 Jordan's King Hussein flies to Cairo and concludes a mutual defense pact with Egypt. They announce that Jordan will form a joint military command with Egypt under an Egyptian general on the Jordanian front.

Nasser and Hussein signing the Arab Defence Pact - Israel Intelligence Timeline

June 2
Moshe Dayan becomes defense minister - 1967; 
Israel intelligence timeline
Following the addition of Moshe Dayan to the cabinet as Minister of Defense, the Israeli cabinet decides in principle to launch a preemptive war. The military recognizes the danger in delaying any longer more Egyptian troops will arrive from Yemen, and the USSR will continue supplying weapons to Egypt. Moreover, it is understood that the United Nations and United States will do nothing to break Nasser's blockade of the Gulf of Aqaba. MI is aware of the inadequacy of Egyptian preparations and its army's weak morale.
June 4After Meir Amit, head of the Mossad, returns from the United States with an assessment that Americans will not oppose Israeli action, but are not going to do anything themselves to resolve the situation, the Israeli cabinet resolves to start the war the following morning.
June 5Start of the .Six day war. Thanks to precision intelligence, Israel knows the routine of Egyptian pilots as well as location and disposition of aircraft including mock-ups. The IAF strikes Arab military airfields at 07:45 when the pilots have not yet manned their aircraft, and destroys 304 of the 419 Egyptian aircraft on the ground, 53 of 112 Syrian planes, and Jordan's entire 28-plane air force. Mockups are not destroyed. 
June 6, 1967A radiotelephone conversation between Nasser and King Hussein over the public telephone system is tapped by two veteran AMAN officers using vintage World War II equipment. By this time most of Nasser's air force has been eliminated, but he does not share this information with Hussein. It is clear from the conversation that Hussein knows that things are going badly, but Nasser apparently convinces Hussein that they will both claim that the air attack on June 5 was carried out jointly by the Israeli, U.S., and British air forces. Israeli publication of the conversation focuses American and British anger on the the Egyptians.

Israeli signals intelligence (SIGINT) monitors Nasser's orders to his forces to fall back to the Suez Canal following the breakthrough of Israeli forces in the north and the south of Sinai early that morning. Disclosure of this order enables Israel Defense Forces (IDF) to start an offensive against Syria on the Golan Heights three days later.

12 Oct. The Israeli Navy destroyer Eilat on a routine coastal patrol from Ashdod port past El Arish toward the northern entrance to the Suez Canal at Port Said is ambushed by an Egyptian missile boat and sunk.

Previous:  Israel Intelligence Timeline 1956-1960  |Next:  Israel Intelligence Timeline 1968-1973


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