According to the Honenu legal aid society, Israel’s secret police has been operating at least one agent provocateur in an attempt to trap rightwing activists in the performance of extremist acts. Honenu has dubbed the undercover officer Champagne 2.
Shortly after the capture of Prime Minister Rabin’s murderer Yigal Amir, Israelis learned that Amir had been guided and controlled by a Shabak agent named Avishai Raviv, whose code name was Champagne and whose mission, many believed, was to encourage and fabricate activities of right-wing extremists. He was, for instance, the behind the poster showing Rabin in an SS uniform, just days before the murder, making sure it appeared on the news. And there was testimony cited in at least one newspaper article that Raviv was urging Amir to kill the prime minister. In his trial, Raviv was able to get off by saying he was merely carrying out his duties as an agent provocateur.
The new undercover agent provocateur has been posing for two year as a member of the Lehava organization, and used his fake identity to incite Jewish activists over Whatsapp and Facebook. The officer was exposed after he had tried last week to recruit an informer from a Samaria community. The latter called on Honenu for legal advice and informed the officer he was not interested.
The officer contacted him for about 15 times from two different phone numbers, which the resident kept on his smartphone. Later, when the same resident entered a Whatsapp group where he is a member, he spotted the same number the officer had used to call him, but now the user was presenting himself as one of the gang of Jewish extremists, just aching to hurt himself some Arabs.
The Samaria resident approached the group leader who quickly removed the officer, and the latter protested, claiming that his name was Miro Amzaleg and that he was a Lehava activist from Jerusalem. But when he was challenged to come up with anyone who knows him in Lehava he was only able to provide names of people he had been in virtual contact with.
The undercover officer’s Facebook page, which has since been taken down, offered posts containing incitements against Arabs. One shares a story about the Jewish man who later burned down the bilingual school in Jerusalem, with the comment: No Arabs, No Terror Attacks. According to Honenu, the fact that the post was dated about a month before the arson might suggest that the agent provocateur was involved in inciting the man, Shlomi Tuito, to carry out the crime. There were several other posts that could be seen as calculated provocations of young and easily influenced fringe Jews, similar in profile to Yigal Amir.
One telling episode had to do with the picture of Rabbi Kahane’s grandson Meir Ettinger on the morning of his release from administrative detention earlier this month, a picture which the undercover officer posted online ahead of all the other media. The fact was Ettinger had been let out of jail earlier than scheduled and was left standing there, waiting for his family to come pick him up. No one else had the picture, and when reporters and activists asked “Amzaleg” how he got it, he said his relative, a prison guard, had sent it to him. But a quick investigation revealed that Ettinger had been standing in the company of three police detectives who handed him his release papers and shot his pictures from every conceivable angle. The detectives were the only possible source for the image, and when the agent posted it he outed himself.
Honenu is in the process of examining two-years’ worth of correspondence the officer had kept with activists, and they intend to turn them into a lawsuit. The officer is known to Honenu as a recruiter of Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria to inform on their neighbors. That part, as repulsive as it may sound, is not illegal. However, Honenu officials contend, for the same police officer to be involved in inciting young Jews to commit acts of violence against Arabs should be grounds for suspension, followed by dismissal.
Police on Sunday refused to comment on intelligence operations.