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The Mossad’s North African Network

In 1954, Mossad chief Isser Harel was worried about the fate of Jews living in Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria after they gained their independence. He asked Shlomo Havilio to create an underground network to protect those Jewish communities and facilitate the immigration of Jews to Israel.

After visiting North Africa, Havilio assembled a group of French and Arabic speakers and trained them in clandestine tactics. They were then assigned to the different countries and tasked with building their own teams of local operatives.

Their activities varied from the relatively mundane establishment of an underground mail service to allow Jews to stay in contact with their relatives in Israel after the Moroccan government discontinued mail service to assassinations. In May 1956, for example, Muslims threw grenades into the Jewish Quarter in Constantine, Algeria. Havilio’s agents were sent to find and kill the perpetrators.

“The Framework,” as the operation was known, also provided false documents and transportation for Jews who wanted to go to Israel. By 1961, tens of thousands of Moroccan Jews were secretly brought to Israel. Later, the Moroccan government allowed Jews to immigrate.

Source: Ofer Aderet, “The Mossad Operative Who Formed the Jewish Underground in North Africa,” Haaretz, (August 3, 2017).