New Zealand security officials suspect Israeli Mossad agents were trying to obtain sensitive information from the state's databases, reported the local Southland Times newspaper on Tuesday. Authorities suspect that one of the agents was Ofer Mizrahi, one of three Israelis killed in the earthquake in the city of Christchurch last February.
Authorities have launched an investigation into what a senior security official called "suspicious activities of several groups of Israelis during and immediately after the earthquake."
There was extensive local media coverage of the search teams that were sent from Israel after the earthquake. The two private search parties were sent without prior coordination with officials in Jerusalem, and were met with difficulties after the local authorities prevented them from searching in the area.
The report claims Israel's reaction to the casualties and missing Israeli citizens was unprecedented. For example, Prime Minister John Key, who is Jewish, spoke with his counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu four times the day of the earthquake. The report also claims that Israeli ambassador Shemi Tzur , who is posted in the capital Wellington, immediately ordered plane tickets to Christchurch. Furthermore, Home Front Defense Minister Matan Vilnai also left immediately for the disaster-struck city.
The three Israelis who survived the car crash that killed Mizrai fled the scene and left him behind, the report continues, saying Mizrahi had five passports. New Zealand security services suspected he was a Mossad agent after the Israeli search party took interest in his many passports and after his three friends' quick departure back to Israel. Security services also took note that a Facebook page set up in remembrance of Mizrahi has only five "likes."
Shemi Tzur, the Israeli ambassador in Wellington, denied the allegations and dismissed them as "science fiction."