Israeli Commander Dismissed for Ordering Spy to Procure Palestinian Tahini

According to the probe, a senior handler was ordered to dispatch an agent to the West Bank to buy boxes of the traditional sesame paste for a top intelligence officer

Amos Harel
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Israeli security personnel patrol the area outside Damascus gate following a security incident by the gate in Jerusalem's old city, May 31, 2019.
Israeli security personnel patrol the area outside Damascus gate in Jerusalem's old city, May 31, 2019. Credit: AMMAR AWAD/ REUTERS
Amos Harel

Senior Israeli military intelligence officials have been disciplined for their part in the dispatching of agents to acquire tahini from a West Bank village, in what Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi said Friday was “a harsh violation of moral and professional ethics.”

A lieutenant colonel at Unit 504, the Israeli military’s human intelligence agency, would be dismissed from the army, the IDF spokesman said in a statement. The IDF’s Chief Intelligence Officer Yuval Shimoni, the unit’s commander and two other commanders would be reprimanded.

In early January, investigative television program “Uvda” revealed that in two instances, the elite unit operated agents to purchase boxes of tahini, a traditional sesame seed paste, for Shimoni. Top commanders at the unit ordered a senior handler to dispatch an agent to the West Bank to buy the tahini from a Palestinian village.

This was conducted solely for that purpose, and not as part of any operational activity. Shimoni had been unaware at the time that the boxes were acquired in a special operation and paid for them.

A Military Police probe was launched following the report and its findings were presented earlier this week to Military Intelligence chief Tamir Hayman.

The dismissed officer, according to the probe’s conclusions, operated against military orders and provided only “partial and misleading information” when asked about it, while Shimoni should have inquired as to the origin of the tahini boxes he received.

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