How Involved Is Mossad in the Ukraine War?

Fire brigade and scuba divers perform recovery operations of the boat on May 29, 2023 in Sesto Calende, Italy.
Mattia Ozbot/Getty Images

How Involved Is Mossad in the Ukraine War?

Is Israel revealing its intelligence cards to the wrong partner?

On May 28, a surprise storm on Lake Maggiore caught 23 people celebrating in a small boat. Everybody but the captain and his wife were in or tied to Italian and Israeli intelligence. Four people were killed. Two of the deceased were Italian, and one was Israeli. The fourth victim was the Russian wife of the boat’s skipper, Claudio Carminati. Carminati is being investigated for negligent homicide; his boat could only legally hold 15 people. Apparently, the excursion was a celebration of the success of an operation.

The details of what the agents were up to remain murky. But media reports suggest the group was meddling in some sort of Russian-Iranian plot. Iran International claimed on June 6 that the “operation [was] against deals between Iranian and Russian officials to provide drones for [Russian] President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.” Others suggested the agents were spying on Russian oligarchs siphoning money from Switzerland or that they were keeping tabs on Iranian-Italian business connections. For Israel to be involved, the business most likely involves Iran somehow.

Italian media identified the Israeli victim as Erez Shimoni. This may be a pseudonym; Israeli authorities have yet to confirm his identity. But Israel’s Prime Minister’s Office released the following statement on May 31:

The coffin of the Mossad retiree who was killed in the boating tragedy, due to inclement weather, on Lake Maggiore in northern Italy, arrived in Israel this morning. Due to his service in the agency, no further details are available.

The Mossad has lost a dear, dedicated and professional colleague who, for decades, devoted his life to the security of the State of Israel, even after his retirement. The Mossad mourns the loss and shares in the grief of the family, which it will continue to support and embrace.

Mossad, Israel’s external intelligence service, reports directly to Israel’s prime minister.

Much of the West has isolated Russia through sanctions and other means. Israel is a bit of an exception, though. It helped Ukraine by accepting refugees and offering early-warning systems. But it has tried not to antagonize Russia too much. Russia has supported Israeli strikes in Syria, and many Israelis have Russian backgrounds.

This balancing act hasn’t been working. Israel-Russia relations are souring. But the Italy incident suggests Israel is involved in the Ukraine War a lot more than people realize. It suggests Mossad is actively collaborating with European intelligence in combatting Russia.

The kicker is Iran. The soon-to-be nuclear pariah state has vowed to wipe Israel off the map. Israel naturally then sees any military advancement of Iran to be an existential threat. Iran, meanwhile, has also been helping Russia in the Ukraine War. Russia has especially been relying on Iranian suicide drones. This means hurting Russia and hurting Iran now have a lot of overlap. Much of Europe, meanwhile, sees Russia’s war as its own existential crisis and is looking for allies. In all likelihood, Israel would not be helping Europe out like this if it weren’t for Iran.

The accident in Lake Maggiore is a single tragedy. At face value, it may not appear to have much geopolitical significance. But Mossad is one of the most skilled and secretive intelligence agencies in the world. Italy is a minor arena in the Ukraine War. Yet what few details we can glean suggests the collaboration between Israel and Italy was extensive.

The team was pretty big. Israel was on the ground for something Italy probably could have dealt with on its own. And whatever was happening was so secret that in the rush to get the Mossad agents back to Tel Aviv, the Israelis didn’t even bother returning their rental cars.

If Mossad is doing this kind of work in Italy, what is it doing in European nations that are much closer to the conflict’s ground zero? How much is it collaborating with countries like Poland and the Baltic states, which are much more afraid of Russia than West European countries are and would have incentive to reach out to countries like Israel? Is this kind of joint intelligence work happening on the European level? And how much of its intelligence apparatus has Israel had to reveal to make this cooperation happen?

There is a lot we can’t see. Mossad is very good at keeping its activities out of the public eye. But the Italian incident shows how seriously Israel is taking Iran’s involvement in Ukraine—and how it is willing to cooperate with Europe to counter Iran. One can be confident that this isn’t the only major Mossad operation against Iran with Europe’s help. Israel and Europe cooperate on security matters all the time. But the Ukraine War—and Iran’s involvement in it—is giving excuse to bring this cooperation to new levels.

For obvious reasons, intelligence agencies share what they know very sparingly. Close levels of cooperation signal a certain element of trust because the other side would now know who one’s agents are, where and how they operate, and what they’re most interested in. Collaborating with other agencies generally means showing at least some cards.

The lake accident suggests Europe is someone Mossad trusts showing its cards to. How many cards have already been seen is anybody’s guess.

But considering Europe not that long ago was the site of the Holocaust—considering Italy is currently led by the heir to Mussolini’s old Fascist party—considering the European Union funds groups affiliated with Palestinian terrorism—considering Europe still struggles with anti-Semitism at alarmingly high levels—one has to wonder if Israel’s trust in Europe is, at the very best, a little naïve.

A prophecy in Ezekiel 23 describes the State of Israel under the poetic female name “Aholibah” (verse 4). The prophecy portrays Israel as an adulterous woman betraying her husband (God) and going after foreign “lovers.” Verses 11 through 21 specify she chased after “the Assyrians” and “the Babylonians of Chaldea.” This “love affair” is manifested through intimate and trusting dealings. Like deep military and intelligence dealings.

The prophecy doesn’t make sense without knowing the modern identities of these ancient names. Late theologian Herbert W. Armstrong wrote in his book The United States and Britain in Prophecy:

The Assyrians—before 604 b.c.—left their land north of Babylon and migrated northwest—through the lands that are now Georgia, Ukraine, Poland, and into the land that is called Germany today. Today the descendants of those Assyrians are known to us as the German people. … And where, today, are the ancient Babylonians—the Chaldeans? They migrated west and settled in Italy.

Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry wrote for our October 2014 print issue:

God established that nation for the Jews in 1948 and sustained it for many years, but they are bringing deeper and deeper problems upon themselves. God is acutely upset about this. He commands His people to warn Judah and Israel about their sins and the consequences they will bring.

Verses 16 and 17 discuss more lovers of these two sisters—not just Assyria, but also Chaldea and the Babylonians. While these two were different than Assyria anciently, the Babylonian lover today is in cahoots with Assyria.

Ezekiel’s prophecy shows the end result of this: “Therefore, O Aholibah, thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I will raise up thy lovers against thee, from whom thy mind is alienated, and I will bring them against thee on every side; the Babylonians, and all the Chaldeans … and all the Assyrians with them … And they shall come against thee with chariots, wagons, and wheels [“weapons, chariots, and wagons”—the Amplified Bible], and with them an assembly of people, which shall set against thee buckler and shield and helmet round about: and I will set judgement before them, and they shall judge thee according to their judgements” (Ezekiel 23:22-24).

Israel opens up its intelligence apparatus to European eyes to its own peril.

To learn more, please read Mr. Flurry’s article “The Significance of Germany’s Break From America.”