“The Lavon Affair refers to a failed Israeli covert operation, code named Operation Susannah, conducted in Egypt in the Summer of 1954. As part of the false flag operation, a group of Egyptian Jews were recruited by Israeli military intelligence for plans to plant bombs inside Egyptian, American and British-owned targets. The attacks were to be blamed on the Muslim Brotherhood, Egyptian Communists, “unspecified malcontents” or “local nationalists” with the aim of creating a climate of sufficient violence and instability to induce the British government to retain its occupying troops in Egypt’s Suez Canal zone. The operation caused no casualties, except for those members of the cell who committed suicide after being captured.
The operation became known as the Lavon Affair after the Israeli defense minister Pinhas Lavon, who was forced to resign because of the incident, or euphemistically as the Unfortunate Affair or The Bad Business.
In the early 1950s the United States initiated a more activist policy of support for Egyptian nationalism; this was often in contrast with British policies of maintaining its regional hegemony. Israel feared that this policy, which encouraged Britain to withdraw its military forces from the Suez Canal, would embolden Egyptian President Nasser’s military ambitions towards Israel. Israel first sought to influence this policy through diplomatic means but was frustrated.
In the summer of 1954 Colonel Binyamin Gibli, the chief of Israel’s military intelligence, Aman, initiated Operation Susannah in order to reverse that decision. The goal of the Operation was to carry out bombings and other acts of terrorism in Egypt with the aim of creating an atmosphere in which the British and American opponents of British withdrawal from Egypt would be able to gain the upper hand and block the British withdrawal from Egypt.
According to historian Shabtai Teveth, who wrote one of the more detailed accounts, the assignment was “To undermine Western confidence in the existing [Egyptian] regime by generating public insecurity and actions to bring about arrests, demonstrations, and acts of revenge, while totally concealing the Israeli factor. The team was accordingly urged to avoid detection, so that suspicion would fall on the Muslim Brotherhood, the Communists, ‘unspecified malcontents’ or ‘local nationalists’.
The top-secret cell, Unit 131, which was to carry out the operation, had existed since 1948 and under Aman since 1950. At the time of Operation Susannah, Unit 131 was the subject of a bitter dispute between Aman (military intelligence) and Mossad (national intelligence agency) over who should control it.
Unit 131 operatives had been recruited several years before, when the Israeli intelligence officer Avram Dar arrived in Cairo undercover as a British citizen of Gibraltar called John Darling. He had recruited several Egyptian Jews who had previously been active in illegal emigration activities and trained them for covert operations.
Aman decided to activate the network in the Spring of 1954. On July 2, the cell firebombed a post office in Alexandria, and on July 14, it bombed the libraries of the U.S. Information Agency in Alexandria and Cairo and a British-owned theater. The homemade bombs, consisting of bags containing acid placed over nitroglycerine, were inserted into books, and placed on the shelves of the libraries just before closing time. Several hours later, as the acid ate through the bags, the bombs would explode. They did little damage to the targets and caused no injuries or deaths.
Before the group began the operation, Israeli agent Avri Elad (Avraham Zeidenberg) was sent to oversee the operations. Elad assumed the identity of Paul Frank, a former SS officer with Nazi underground connections. Avri Elad allegedly informed the Egyptians, resulting in the Egyptian Intelligence Service following a suspect to his target, the Rio Theatre, where a fire engine was standing by. Egyptian authorities arrested this suspect, Philip Natanson, when his bomb accidentally ignited prematurely in his pocket. Having searched his apartment, they found incriminating evidence and names of accomplices to the operation.
Several suspects were arrested, including Egyptian Jews and undercover Israelis. Colonel Dar and Elad had managed to escape. Two suspects, Yosef Carmon and Hungarian-born Israeli Meir Max Bineth committed suicide in prison.” From: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lavon_Affair
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