The Israeli Embassy in Berlin has promised to pay the bill for 1,263.01 euros (about $1,370) submitted by a town in northern Germany for what was described in the German media as “extricating two Mossad agents who got stuck in the mud with their car” in December.
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The embassy took advantage of the letter to level harsh criticism against the mayor and to “apologize” for the fact that his equanimity was upset when an operation took place near his town to transfer the German submarine INS Rahav from Germany to Israel.
This brings to an end a strange and amusing story, centered around a local incident that took place in December but was revealed only last weekend. According to a report in the German media, a week before Christmas two “armed Mossad agents,” who were sent to monitor the transfer of the submarine from the port of Kiel in northern Germany to Israel, got stuck in the mud with their car. According to the report, the two entered a restricted area on the banks of the Kiel Canal with their car, ignoring the “No Entry” sign at the entrance.
An elderly local woman argued with the two and asked what they were doing there. According to the German media they told her that they were preparing the ground for a sailing competition to be held there in the near future. The woman became suspicious and summoned the police and the mayor. After the two Israelis presented their diplomatic papers, firefighters, with the help of a farmer and his private tractor, helped to extricate them from the mud.
Last week, after a delay of several months, a bill was sent from the office of Mayor Klaus Langer of Quarnbek, where the incident took place, to the Israeli Embassy in Berlin. The sum, 1,263.01 euros, is equal to about 5,400 shekels. The mayor even complained to the German media that the activity of the “Mossad agents” was not coordinated with him and scared the residents of his town.
On Tuesday the Israeli Embassy responded angrily to the story. In a letter sent by Deputy Ambassador Avi Nir-Feldklein to the mayor, he promised to pay the bill but harshly criticized the fact that the embassy heard about the “debt” via a report aired on television last weekend, before the bill was sent to the embassy, after a delay of several months.
“The operation was coordinated with the German authorities and was conducted in accordance with the law,” wrote Nir-Feldklein. “We were very sorry to hear that it upset you. We didn’t want to upset anyone,” he added.
“At this opportunity we would like to thank the voluntary firefighters’ brigade for pulling the vehicle out of the mud. Of course it is your right to send a bill for this service to us. And of course we always pay our bills. However, it would be helpful in the future if you send bills to us in the first place and not to the media”
The mayor, for his part, is insulted. In an interview to the British newspaper Independent, he said: “If I do something wrong in a foreign country, I go to the authorities and say – ‘I made a mistake and want to pay for it.’ I’ve been waiting for that since December.”
In response to Haaretz, the Israeli Embassy in Berlin said that the two Israelis who were portrayed in the German media as “Mossad agents” are “Israeli security guards who work in coordination with the German authorities, with Israeli diplomatic papers and in accordance with the law.” They also said: “It’s not clear what the mayor’s motive was in presenting such a false picture.”