Nasser made much of his missiles: he test launched them before an international audience, and paraded them down the streets of Cairo. On another level, Nasser needed missiles to showcase his personal power and prestige, which had suffered when Syria withdrew from the United Arab Republic in September Moreover, Egypt had to rely heavily on foreign expertise to develop and produce its prototypes. In any case, there is little doubt that Egypt has expended considerable sums over the past forty years as it tried to acquire either the means to develop its own ballistic missiles or systems from abroad.
Shimon Peres framed this perspective when he observed that The rockets the Egyptians have launched constitute a serious threat to Israel. They have inaugurated a new era in the Middle East. The advent of these modern weapons has radically changed the nature of the danger that lies in wait for us and the measures we have to take to protect ourselves from it. Part of the problem seems to have been Israeli complacency. Some believed that the vaunted Mossad had failed. Lotz was also ordered to obtain detailed lists of names and addresses of all the German and European scientists who were working on Egyptian military projects.
In this letter, Pilz asked the Egyptian government for 3. During that discussion, Harel pressed for immediate action against the German scientists in Cairo. Ben-Gurion hesitated. Unlike his intelligence chief, who had become convinced the Germans were once again trying to exterminate Jews, the Prime Minister was reluctant to risk a sensitive relationship with Bonn over the matter of German citizens working in Egypt.
In his discussion with Ben-Gurion, Peres argued against taking a hard line with Adenauer, especially when Israel was in the process of negotiating an arms deal with Bonn. Peres also said there was little to gain in compromising Adenauer with potentially embarrassing revelations about West German citizens building weapons for Cairo.
As an alternative, Peres recommended a lowkey approach. Meanwhile, Wolfgang Lotz quickly responded to the renewed emphasis on the Egyptian missile program and by September he had returned to Paris with the name and address of every German scientist working in Cairo. As one Israeli intelligence analyst observed, It is rare for there to be one man who is so precious to the other side, so irreplaceable, that his death would seriously affect the outcome of any struggle save for in the very short term.
When the German government did not take immediate action against the scientists, the Israeli Prime Minister granted approval for the anti-scientist campaign. Aman chief General Amit reportedly did not voice any objections to the operation, although he still believed that the Mossad was hyping the Egyptian missile threat. Harel decided personally to supervise and manage his operation from a roving headquarters that transited through several European cities as the campaign against the scientists got underway. With the exception of that one phone call, there were no indications of foul play.
This man had, quite simply, vanished from the face of the earth.
When Wende opened this letter, it exploded, permanently blinding her in one eye and damaging her hearing. Dr Pilz escaped unharmed. An investigation of the sender — a Stuttgart publisher — yielded little information other than that this publisher did not exist. Other, more subtle methods were adopted, including threat letters addressed to the scientists and their families. One such letter, posted by Wolfgang Lotz with Egyptian postage, warned the recipient that his work in Cairo was being closely monitored. The same could not be said of Egypt: It is impossible to believe. There can be little doubt that once the weapons systems you are helping to build have been perfected, they will be used in order to wipe Israel from the map.
We would like to think that you care for the safety of your wife, Elizabeth, and your two children Niels and Trudi. It would be in your interest to cease working for the Egyptian military. Kleinwachter related the next sequence of events in an interview with an American journalist: I was on my way home from my laboratory. I entered a small lane and spotted a car waiting there with three passengers inside.
One got out and came towards me. The bullet smashed the window and tore a hole through my thick woolen scarf. I grabbed the gun, and turned the muzzle aside and tried to draw my own pistol from my pocket. Shortly after the shaken scientist entered his house, he received an anonymous phone call in French. Inside the car, the police found a passport bearing the name of Ali Samir, a captain in Egyptian intelligence. Unfortunately for the Israelis, this attempt at deception was a bust, for the real Ali Samir coincidentally had been interviewed by a German magazine in Cairo on the very day of the Kleinwachter assassination attempt.
Only a few months after the assassination attempt, he said he had no intention of ceasing his Egyptian work. In May , Kleinwachter went to Bonn in a fruitless attempt to raise his concerns with Chancellor Adenauer.
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He insisted his Egyptian work was for peaceful purposes; he did not consider it morally reprehensible to assist Cairo in its rocketry efforts. With Kleinwachter on his guard after narrowly escaping death, the Mossad turned to Cairo-based scientist Dr Paul Goercke as the next target for its anti-scientist campaign. But for the Goercke mission, Isser Harel tried something different: rather than use letter bombs, or assassination, the Mossad chief decided to get at Goercke through his daughter. Surprisingly, Harel turned to a recent defector from Egypt named Otto Joklik to head up the Goercke mission.
Indeed, he stated he had attempted to acquire cobalt from West German, Canadian, and Indian sources on behalf of the Egyptian government. He said he had been tasked by Dr Wolfgang Pilz to obtain radioactive sources for a secret weapons project. According to Joklik, this plan, seemingly drawn straight from the pages of a James Bond novel, was outrageous even by Egyptian standards.
In 64 Jerusalem responds fact, it is plausible that the Joklik information contributed directly to the letter bomb decision and the assassination attempt on Kleinwachter. At any rate, Isser Harel did not share his new source with anyone outside of Mossad.
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Harel refused. It was not until Peres threatened resignation that Prime Minister Ben-Gurion compelled his intelligence chief to cooperate. Some time at the end of February , lawyer Heidi Goercke was approached by a stranger while she walked home from work in Freiburg, West Germany. This stranger said his name was Otto Joklik and that he had been an acquaintance of her father in Cairo. Heidi was given three days to mull over this request, at which time both parties agreed to meet again in Basel, Switzerland. When Joklik left, Heidi Goercke called a number her father had given her in the event of an emergency.
Joklik and Ben-Gal would later deny in a Swiss court ever making threats against Heidi or her father. She did agree to meet Joklik and Ben-Gal again in three days. Both were arrested in Zurich for violating Swiss neutrality laws and conducting illegal activity on behalf of a foreign state. That same day, the prosecutor in Freiburg informed the Swiss Justice Ministry that the Loerrach court had issued warrants for the arrest of Joklik and BenGal.
Both were accused of playing a role in the Krug disappearance and the Kleinwachter assassination attempt. For its part, the Egyptian embassy in Bern issued a press release that criticized the dangers posed to German scientists by Israeli agents. Interestingly, Krug was not mentioned at all. The Swiss denied the extradition request, and in midApril issued charges of their own against Joklik and Ben-Gal for conspiracy and coercion. The trial date was set for June. The Minister of Public Works was even more direct in public comments.
Ultimately, however, the Prime Minister could not bridge the growing gulf that was emerging within his cabinet. With the Prime Minister still on vacation, the German scientist debate fell on the shoulders of Foreign Minister Meir. Ben-Gurion could not have chosen a worse candidate to defend his vulnerable rapprochement with Germany. In her view, the West German government bore direct responsibility for the German scientists since these scientists and technicians are its citizens.
On 21 March, the Egyptian Information Minister denied receiving any German assistance in obtaining nuclear weapons. What seemed new was the vehemence of the criticism of the West German government and people and of the policy of rapprochement with Germany nurtured by Premier David Ben Gurion. When approached by their Foreign Ministry peers, the Defense Ministry announced that it would not surrender the Israeli documents out of fear of risking Israeli sources in Egypt. Thus thwarted in its quest for information on Pilz, Goercke, Schuran, and company although it presumably had some information on these individuals from its embassy in Cairo , the Foreign Ministry concluded that no Germans were working on WMD projects in Egypt.
Wedded to the Hallstein Doctrine, which stipulated that Bonn would refuse to recognize those countries that established diplomatic ties with its East German rival, West Germany regarded Egypt as a valuable pawn that had to be lured away from the Eastern Bloc. They denounced Israeli threats against themselves and their families and insisted that they were merely helping Egypt develop a space program.
Shimon Peres rushed back from Paris amidst the uproar, sensing trouble for arms deals he was negotiating with Bonn. The result of this investigation was a virtual replay of what had transpired the previous August: Aman once again questioned Mossad and the degree of danger posed by Egyptian WMD programs. According to Deutschkron, German Defense Minister Strauss was already circulating rumors that Israeli polemics against Bonn could kill some secret arms deals.
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A key Strauss aide who was in Israel at the height of the fracas met with Ben-Gurion at his vacation residence on Lake Tiberias and presumably relayed German concern at rising antiGerman sentiments among the Israeli populace. In fact, the Prime Minister had other considerations at stake than a bruised relationship with West Germany. He was then in the midst of delicate negotiations with several left-wing parties to lure them into the Mapai fold.
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The following day, both men met and again disputed the effectiveness of the anti-German campaign. Harel insisted that the Germans were morally responsible for the actions of their citizens in Cairo, while Ben-Gurion argued that he could not risk his 72 Jerusalem responds German policy over the activities of a few scientists. Harel refused and submitted a resignation letter instead. Other observers noted a marked drop-off in Israeli media reporting on the Cairo Germans.
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On 1 April, three opposition parties joined in calling for an extraordinary session of the Knesset, which was in its Passover recess. One by one, members of the Liberal, Communist, Herut, and Mapam parties accused the Prime Minister of violating the 20 March resolution; they also questioned the circumstances surrounding the Harel resignation. Second, they would provide the means with which Egypt could wipe Israel off the map. Having led his readers to this despondent conclusion, Dayan then made it patently clear that only Israel could and would handle the problems posed by an Egyptian nuclear weapon: Even if there has not been tangible evidence that the Egyptians were working on the production of nuclear weapons with the connivance of the German scientists and technicians, we may suppose without too much risk of error that they are intending to do so.
Dayan left little doubt that Israel had to do more than merely intimidate German scientists.
We must devote our efforts to the strengthening and improvement of those armaments and that power. Dayan did not need to look far for pertinent examples, since the superpowers were demonstrating to the Israelis and other interested parties that a long-range ballistic missile was the ultimate delivery platform for a nuclear weapon. With its two stages, solid-propellant motors, kilogram warhead, —kilometer range, and accuracy, the Jericho Jerusalem responds 75 was a far more sophisticated system than its Egyptian cousins.
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Joklik also produced a letter allegedly written by the director of the Egyptian arms industry to Dr Wolfgang Pilz that revealed a plan to equip Egyptian missiles with cobalt warheads. Finally, Joklik presented to the court the infamous letter from Pilz that supposedly detailed Egyptian plans to produce missiles at Factory by It is in this light that we can better understand why the Israeli leadership unleashed Operation Damocles against the scientists, their families, and their Egyptian employers. In order to secure the release of its operatives in Switzerland, the Mossad decided to take its case against Nasser to the public.