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Sylvia Rafael

(1938 - 2005)

The Mossad's most famous female assassin, Sylvia Rafael, died in February 2005. Rafael, a native of South Africa who immigrated to Israel and worked on a kibbutz as a young woman, died of leukemia. She died in South Africa where she had returned after spending some years in jail in Norway for her role in the 1973 “Lillehammer Affair.”

Operating undercover, Rafael led a team of Mossad agents hunting for the Palestinians from Black September who were responsible for the massacre of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics. The Lillehammer Affair refers to the murder by Mossad agents of a Moroccan waiter, Ahmed Bouchiki, in Lillehammer, Norway on July 21, 1973. The agents had been sent by Israel to assassinate Ali Hassan Salameh, the leader of the Black September Organization, but mistakenly shot Bouchiki instead, and the entire Mossad cell was arrested by Norwegian authorities.

Rafael was given a five-year jail term, but her sentence was shortened due to health problems. She married her defense attorney and resettled in South Africa. Her body was buried in Israel.

Sources: JTA “Farewell, femme fatale," (February 14, 2005); Wikipedia