Israel Turned Down Opportunity to Assassinate Khomeini

(Sputnik-Russia) Former Mossad station chief in Iran Eliezer Tsafrir remembers better times, when Israelis were still welcomed in Iran and when Tehran "didn't threaten to wipe Israel off the map." Iran was the second Muslim-majority country after Turkey to recognize the new Jewish state in 1948 and it sold oil to Israel. "For Israel, Iran was the second most important ally in the world. In the last year of the shah, we had some 1,300 Israelis working in Iran. These were businessmen, agronomists, engineers," said Tsafrir. "We knew that the days of the shah were numbered but we didn't know when it would all end," he recalled. During one of the protests that erupted in November 1978, thousands of demonstrators stormed the offices of El Al, Israel's national carrier, in Tehran. "They set it on fire so people had to escape the offices through the roof, jumping from one to another, not to fall in the hands of the angry mob." In response, Israel sent three planes aimed at getting all its citizens out. "In December, I was approached by a top official who conveyed to me a personal request from the shah. He wanted to know if the Mossad would be willing to assassinate Ayatollah Khomeini in Paris. I immediately informed Jerusalem of the request but received a reluctant 'no.' 'Israel is not the policeman of the world, I was told.'" "Had we eliminated him back then, the entire world would have been against us and the international community would have never understood the magnitude of the disaster we saved them from. They do understand it now."

2020-02-13 00:00:00

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