Arnon Grunberg



On Lake Maggiore - Yossi Melman in Haaretz:

‘An agent from Israel's Mossad espionage agency, two Italian intelligence officers and the Russian wife of an Italian captain drowned this week under mysterious circumstances. The strange nature of the tragedy, which occurred in northern Italy, could have been right out of a complicated plot from an Agatha Christie detective novel and might have been called “Death on the Lake.”’


‘A small excursion boat set out to cruise the lake with 23 on board, four of whom were crew members including the captain and his wife. The passengers were Italian and Israeli intelligence personnel who had booked the ship for the cruise.’


‘If that weren't enough, questions have been raised following the major blackout on the case in Israel – even if it was justified to some extent to facilitate the return of the body of the Israeli who died. The name of the Mossad man who drowned was published in the Italian media even as media outlets in Israel continued to refrain from reporting it.’


‘It was only after an Italian investigating judge permitted the release of the Israeli's body following the inquiry over the deaths that the body was flown to Israel, arriving early Wednesday morning. Only then did the Mossad permit disclosure of his name – Erez Shimoni – as had already been reported in the Italian media. But that was not his real name. It's standard procedure for Mossad personnel, particularly in operations, to use an assumed name.’


‘This week, the Italian press reported that the intelligence personnel who survived the disaster on the lake were quick to collect their equipment and other belongings from their hotel rooms and from the hospital where they received treatment and then left. The Israelis also abandoned their rental cars. Presumably their Italian colleagues took care of returning them. On Monday the Israeli Mossad personnel were flown back to Israel in a military plane, according to Italian media.
But actually it was an Israeli plane that was dispatched to Italy to bring the Mossad people home. According to publicly available radar data and aviation records, an Israeli Bombardier executive jet that can carry up to 15 passengers was seen landing Monday morning in Milan, which is not far from the lake. A short time later, the plane was seen flying back to Israel. It's an aircraft that Israeli authorities use for official but secret missions. Based on identification markings, it turns out that it had previously flown under unknown circumstances to the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, and to Qatar.

Italian media reported that the cruise had been planned to celebrate the birthday of one of the Italian intelligence officers as part of a gathering of Mossad personnel and their Italian colleagues. As someone who does not believe in conspiracies, I tend to accept things as they seem, so the description is probably correct. In other words, the evening was planned as a social gathering, and it ended in disaster.
But it can be assumed with a considerable degree of certainty that the Mossad people didn't came to Italy just to socialize. They were there for talks and to exchange of information and situation assessments or even more probably for a joint clandestine operation.’


‘In its response for this article, Mossad said: “This morning [Wednesday], the coffin of the Mossad retiree who was killed in the boating disaster following stormy weather conditions on Lake Maggiore in Italy was brought to Israel.
“Due to his service in the organization, it is not possible to elaborate regarding him. The Mossad has lost a dear friend, a dedicated and professional employee who dedicated his life to the security of the State of Israel for decades, even after his retirement. The Mossad grieves over the loss and shares in the grief of the family, which it will continue to support and embrace.”’

Read the article here.

This is more John le Carré than Agatha Christie, Christie was as far as I remember not so fond of spies.

I don’t believe in conspiracy theories either, but the Lake Maggiore is not the Mediterranean Sea. What kind of boat would collapse on that lake? I have been several times to that lake, accidents can happen everywhere but to me, the collapse of such a boat is as bizarre as the deadly collapse of a cruise boat in the Amsterdam canals.
And if 23 people fit on that boat, the boat could not have been that small.

If it was just an accident, why did the survivors leave in such a haste? But assume, it was an accident it’s still interesting to know what operation was discussed.

As a novelist, I suspect that the words Khartoum and Qatar have not been mentioned without a reason.

discuss on facebook