Photo Credit:
Sylvia Rafael

An outgoing and beautiful young woman, Sylvia Rafael immigrated to Israel at the age of 22 to help her country thrive. Although Israel was not really “her country” – she was born in South Africa and her mother was not Jewish – Rafael felt drawn to Israel as a second homeland and to the Jewish people as her people.

When she arrived in Israel she joined a kibbutz and worked for some time in a canning factory. However, feeling as if this was not her calling and the best way to help Israel, she became a teacher in Tel Aviv.

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But Sylvia Rafael found teaching less than commiserate with her desires. She hoped for a more challenging career.

Three years after she first arrived in Israel, she met a Mossad recruiter who thought she might be right for the organization. She was outgoing, resourceful, brilliant, and had a talent for bonding with others. He knew instantly that she would make a great combatant for Israel’s intelligence agency. When Kfir, the recruiter, warned her that the mysterious job they’d met to discuss could be dangerous, she simply sat back comfortably in her chair and smiled.

Her first assignment was to apprehend Ali Hassan Salameh, a member of the Black September Organization who was behind the operation at the Munich Olympic Games that ended in the massacre of 11 Israeli athletes.

Sylvia did not wish to be famous, only effective. You do not become famous doing classified work – if you do your job right. Rafael trained to perfect her craft, operating uncover and helping to assassinate a handful of top-level enemies of Israel.

Unfortunately Sylvia Rafael was assigned to the team which, despite her warnings, tracked down and assassinated the wrong man in Lillehammer, Norway. Sylvia ended up in Norwegian prison and became one of the most well-known Mossad agents in history.

After the incident at Lillehammer, Sylvia quit her job at Mossad. During her trial and imprisonment, she had fallen in love with and married her lawyer, Annæus Schjødt. She and her husband eventually settled in South Africa, where she died of leukemia at the age of 67.

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