Archive History

History : When undercover Mossad cells helped Moroccan Jews immigrate to Israel

Last year, an Israeli TV channel and Al Masdar, an online newspaper, shed light on the history of North African Jews who immigrated to Israel between 1956 and 1962. They revealed the operations carried out by the Mossad through cells established in Morocco, to especially facilitate and secure Moroccan-Jews’ trips to the «Promised Land». History.

Estimated read time: 3'
A group of Jews in Morocco./Ph. Morocco Tailor Made

On May 14th 1948, the State of Israel was formed, disrupting calm and peace that have been maintained between Jews and Muslims throughout the world. The following day, and right after the expiration of the British Mandate, Israel was admitted as a member of the United Nations which marked the beginning of Immigration to Israel.

The anti-Jewish rioting events in Jerada and Oujda

Jews and Muslims were leading a peaceful life in Morocco before the formation of the State of Israel. However, on the 7th and 8th of June 1948, an outraged group of people in Jerada and Oujda surrounded the Jewish community in the two cities killing 42 individuals and injuring 29 others. 5 Moroccan Jews were savagely murdered in Oujda and 37 others were beaten to death in Jerada.

Residents of the two northeastern towns were angrily influenced by the situation in the Middle East back in the time. The massacres came weeks after Israel’s declaration of statehood, which reportedly contributed to a dramatic upsurge in the departure of Jews from Morocco, most of them to Israel.

Following the anti-Jewish rioting in Oujda and Jerada 2,000 Moroccan Jews fled the country for Palestine, many of them passing through Oujda before crossing into Algeria. «During the next year, 18,000 of Morocco’s 250,000 or so Jews left for Israel. Between 1948 and 1956, when emigration was prohibited, the number reached about 110,000» Haaretz stated, an Israeli online newspaper.

In 1956, when Morocco was granted its independence, King Mohammed V prohibited the immigration of Jews and gave then their political rights. He declared that the Jews became Moroccan citizens and a Jewish Minister, Leon Ben Zakin, was appointed in the first and second government. Meanwhile, the Hebrew state multiplied attempts to convince Moroccan-Jews to join Israel. Immigration to Israel from the late 1940s to early 1960s was aided by the Israeli Immigration Department and the non-government sponsored Mossad LeAliyah Bet.

Mossad cells in North Africa

Sixty years after the immigration of Moroccan Jews to Israel, the Israeli channel revealed last weekend how Mossad agents in North Africa helped Moroccan Jews leave the kingdom during that period. According to information relayed by the Israeli media outlet, Al Masdar, the Mossad allegedly carried out a covert operation to establish intelligence cells in North Africa. Its objective was to facilitate trips of thousands of jews who remained in Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria. «Israel was afraid that Jews living in North African countries would be abused after the independence of these countries, encouraging Mossad leader, Isser Harel, to send an Israeli agent, Shlomo Hafilio, visit these three countries», says Al-Masdar.

Thanks to this agent, intelligence cells were, establishing communication bridges between Tel Aviv, Casablanca and eight other centers in North Africa. The Israeli media even reports that Israel has given arms and ammunition to members of these secret cells.

These cells started operating when the Moroccan authorities refused to issue passports and travel permits to Jews. «The Mossad cells operating in the region then started helping Moroccan Jews and Jews from North Africa travel secretly to Israel,» continues the same source.

Members of the Mossad cells were searching for Jews who were interested in immigrating to Israel throughout the kingdom. They then falsified passports and travel documents, allowing Moroccans to enter Isreal by sea. Some of these activities have been carried out in cooperation with the Spanish authorities. The latter, according to Al-Masdar, have approved the transit of Jews through Spain.

The Egoz boat and the Six-Day War

In 1961, the secret operation carried by the Mossad cells was finally revealed. In the night of 10 and 11 January 1961, a boat carrying 40 Moroccan Jews to Israel sank during a storm near Giblartar. Egoz, the boat’s name, reportedly made several visits to the Mediterranean coasts before the tragic incident. «Forty-four men, women, children boarded the boat, dreaming of seeing Israeli shores. Forty-four men, women and children drowned two hours later» writes The Jerusalem Post adding that «Egoz» has made «12 undercover voyages bringing Jews to Israel via Gibraltar, the boat had undergone massive renovations to make it seaworthy».

Between 1961 and 1964, the Mossad continued operating in the region but this time under the name of «Yahin», allowing thousands of Moroccan Jews to leave definitely for Israel.

In June 1967, Israel defeated the Arab armies in the six-day war. The Hebrew state then occupied Sinai, the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and the Golan Heights. Israel made use of this victory presenting itself as a paradise for Jews on earth.

Moroccan Jews continued to immigrate, leaving Morocco for «the promised land». Only a few decided to remain in the kingdom.

Be the first one to comment on our articles...