A Mossad Agent's Treasure Trove of Photos

(New York Times) Ronen Bergman - South African-born Sylvia Rafael was a Mossad agent who worked as a photographer for a now defunct French press agency from 1965 to 1971. Her identity was revealed when she was arrested as a member of a Mossad team that had planned to kill a top Palestinian militant in Norway. On Tuesday, her photography work was featured for the first time at the Yitzhak Rabin Center in Tel Aviv after being kept for decades in a locked suitcase in the Mossad archive. The photos include portraits of President Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt and his successor, Anwar Sadat, as well as King Hussein of Jordan and Prince Abdullah, the current king, oblivious to the fact that they were being photographed by a Mossad agent. Other images show scenes from Yemen, Djibouti, Lebanon and Jordan, which would have been off limits for any Israelis. Rafael, who died in 2005, appears in some of the photos. This was a common practice for intelligence agents trying to get pictures of locations or people without arousing suspicion. "Sylvia was someone special," said Moti Kfir, who served as commander of Mossad's Clandestine Operations Academy at the time Rafael was recruited and trained there. She had "a remarkable talent for forming relationships with anyone, and to give her or him the feeling that they were her best friends....She was not scared of anything. There was no assignment that she expressed fear about or refused to carry out."

2023-03-16 00:00:00

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