National security

Written By: - Date published: 8:37 am, July 21st, 2011 - 56 comments
Categories: disaster, International, Spying - Tags: ,

One of the most annoying things about living in a small, insignificant country like NZ, is the way that the bigger players treat us with impunity. Even within our own borders. Of course the prime example is the 1985 bombing of the Rainbow Warrior by agents of the French foreign intelligence services. That was a highly visible event, and two of the agents involved got caught. But what of other operations? What else goes on in NZ that we never become aware of?

Obviously the current case in point is the presence of what appear to be a group of four Israeli agents in Christchurch. This has come to light one of them was among those tragically killed in the February earthquake. A detailed article in The Press (/ Southland Times / Fairfax) summarises a huge amount of detail:

  •  The member of the group who was killed, Ofer Benyamin Mizrahi, was found to be carrying “at least five passports” ( Key now says two passports).
  • In the hours after the quake an Israeli Ambassador and a Civil Defence chief left for Christchurch, and the Israeli PM made four calls to John Key.
  • The three surviving companions of Mizrahi left  NZ within 12 hours.
  • “An unaccredited Israeli search and rescue squad was later confronted by armed New Zealand officers and removed from the sealed-off “red zone” of the central city.”
  • “That confrontation is understood to have led to intense diplomatic exchanges between New Zealand and Israel”.
  • There were  SAS troops in central Christchurch following the quake, but but the Defence Force denies that they were there to deal with an Israeli rescue squad.
  • It was subsequently realised that  Israeli forensic analysts could have accessed the national police computer database and installed a back door.
  • An urgent security audit was ordered which (we are told) has not turned up anything conclusive.  Police said yesterday they were confident their computer system was secure.
  • Security analyst Paul Buchanan believes that the four Israelis were probably searching for identities they could steal (New Zealand passports are valuable).  A similar Israeli operation was uncovered in 2004.
  • John Key declined to answer questions over the spy allegations.
  • Phil Goff says that Key should “come clean” and give the public more information.

Allegations of spying have received “angry” denials from the Israeli Ambassador and a similar response from the local Jewish community (see discussion by Audrey Young).  A TVNZ piece originally titled “Key says not in ‘national interest’ to discuss spy allegations”  has since been updated to read “Questions remain over Israeli spying claims”.  There’s a good overview of coverage in NZ Politics Daily (at time of writing only online here).  Tracy Watkins at Stuff says what many of us will be thinking:

Key will have to say more on Israeli spy claims

John Key’s reaction to today’s allegations about Israeli citizens operating out of Christchurch at the time of the earthquake is extraordinary.

Key was repeatedly asked today whether he could confirm or deny the facts of Fred Tulett’s explosive story carried by Fairfax today but refused, because he “deemed” that it was not in the national interests for him to do so.  But he left enough unanswered questions that no-one can seriously believe it is in the national interest to let the story lie. …

But what Key can’t or won’t offer assurances on is what the Israelis were up to. His answers to date only fuel the perception that they were engaged in clandestine activity. …

At the moment, the huge blanks in Key’s response will only allow the impression to take root that maintaining good relations with Israel is what passes for the Government’s “national interest” test.

I couldn’t have put it better myself.

56 comments on “National security”

  1. uke 1

    There was an interesting – if brief – RNZ interview with an expert on Mossad, Gordon Thomas, this morning. His sources apparently indicated there was a full-fledged Mossad operation in progress.
     
    It is also interesting that police are refusing to describe the contents of the white van crushed in the earthquake – which, after all, may have been the true objective of the Israeli rescue team.

  2. joe bloggs 2

    Great stuff – I bags the concession stand for tinfoil hats – I’ll make millions!

  3. felix 3

    The photo on Audrey’s story is very telling. It’s his “nothing here to see, but I don’t have an explanation prepared” face.

    That face is getting quite a bit of work lately.

  4. Anne 4

    I understand the information came from an SIS officer. That’s the intriguing part for me. Was he a whistle blower acting on his own, or did he have (surreptitious) approval to spill the beans? I suspect it would have been the latter, and that might indicate some bad blood between the SIS and the NAct govt.?

    That Phil Goff was not even kept informed by Key is despicable. It’s normal practise to keep your opposite number in the loop, and his failure to do so smacks of sheer arrogance and – dare I say it – jealousy? Goff’s knowledge and experience of Foreign and Defence affairs is vastly superior to Key’s of course. On the matter of trust and dependibility to handle such situations correctly there is no contest. Goff would win every time!

  5. Ianupnorth 5

    As posted by me earlier on Open Mike

    Israeli spies – call me cynical, is this a manufactured Key diversion, takes the debate well away from economics, cost of living and CGT and focuses on him in the US as our great I can fix everything leader? Maybe we should let this drop and bring the debate back to real issues.

    There is no denying Key has done his usual Laurel and Hardy approach to managing an issue, he can turn a drama into a crisis in the blink of an eye. But I still think this is far too opportune a distraction to fend of crap economic figures such as inflation.

  6. Terry 6

    Key will surely do anything to protect the reputation of his forbears!

    • mik e 6.1

      I wonder who the handler is, as prof Buchanan has pointed out how do close friends ditch their dead buddy and get on the first plane out. Doesn,t sound right to me, you would have thought that coming from a religious state they would have hung around for the service especially if they were friends.

    • gobsmacked 6.2

      Key will surely do anything to protect the reputation of his forbears!

      WTF?

      1) Jews. 2) Mossad … these are not synonyms. Except in Bigotworld.

      Key is a lying right-wing douchebag. And also filed under douchebags … people who think being a lying right-wing douchebag has anything to do with his (mother’s) Jewish ancestry.

      • Actually according to rabbi’s like these John Key is not even a Jew as he is not practising the Jewish religion.  These rabbi’s argue that religious reasons do not allow them to claim the Palestinian land as their own and want Israel to be dismanteld. It pays to remember that a lot of these people left Palestine where they had lived for centuries in peace with their Arab neighbours because they were discriminated against by the new Zionist influx.
        The Zionist movement which didn’t start until the late 1897 in its current form was the first movement to call “Jews” a race.
        It is an obfuscation of the reality which has served the secular Zionist movement well!

    • SHG 6.3

      Terry 6
      21 July 2011 at 10:27 am
      Key will surely do anything to protect the reputation of his forbears!

      Whoa whoa back on up there, wtf?

  7. felix 7

    Murray “present” McCully says there’s nothing untoward about visitors to NZ carrying more than one passport.

    Seems a bit odd.

    • ghostwhowalksnz 7.1

      Note the ‘denial’ is about only ‘one passport on him’. Of course you would have carry one passport at a time, but I read the initial report to say he had other passports among his belongings.

      AS well Key hasnt explained why the Israeli PM would call him four times that day about a ‘group of 4 backpackers’

      • What day did Netanyahu call him. On the day of the Earthquake? Because if I remember correctly it wasn’t until days later it made the news that two Israeli’s were missing and that “perhaps” they were in Chch.

        So unless Netanyahu considers it to be his job to keep up with every travelling citizen the very fact that he called the NZ PM on the day of the Earthquake itself is suspect.

        Yep, just read the link to the Israeli newspaper mentioning two private rescue teams and only mentioning these two. The four never made it into the news strangely enough.

        • freedom 7.1.2.1

          The Israeli Ambassador leaving Australia immediately to head to NZ you can understand. Even though it is a push to understand why he left Canberra immediately after hearing of the Quake before any real information was available to anyone, let alone the fact that no time had passed for the identification and nationalities of survivors and victims to be ascertained. The Head of their Home Front Defense being sent to NZ is a bit odd. ( Home Front Defense is Israel’s Civil Defense,) Matan Vilnai untill a few weeks prior to the event was actually their Deputy Minister of Defense, Military not Civil )

          In the past the Head of their Home Front Defense has routinely not been sent to other disaster zones where Israeli citizens are at risk. Deputies are usually sent. All of the ‘facts’ including the now famous four attempts to call the PM are up to debate. In the articles released after the Quake there is no mention of a call from Benjamin Netanyahu but plenty of references to calls directed to McCully from his counterpart yet we are now being told that the Israeli PM was highly motivated to talk to our PM. Why? The condolonsces had already been officially sent. Our PM was kinda busy. What could be so important that regular diplomatic channels were not sufficeint? Also, Why would the PM mention something now that was not newsworthy at the time?

          There are far too many inconsistencies already for this to be an innocent event. By week’s end it will be forgotten by most. Especially the NZ journalists and Editors. Barring the discovery of a serious lapse in documentation/asscovering we will never know the how and why of this operation’s intent. All we can summise is that the young travellers were most likely soft cover assets, there if required by the main operatives who would have been the real objects of concern for the Israeli Government.

          Those who are asking what would they be targetting in ChCh that was so important ?
          oh nothing just the U.S.-New Zealand Partnership Forum and the ongoing military exercises with Australia and Singapore, a country that Israel has often stated it wants to better understand. (which is simply diplospeak for spy harder on)

          But the U.S.-New Zealand Partnership Forum is every couple of years, what is so special about that? If you look at the attendees this year, this was no ordinary event. Never had such a distinguished list of US policymakers been in NZ. It was plainly discussing the ‘partnership’ plans of Homeland Security, FEMA and all the other amoral playmates we invited here. Napolitano herself was meant to attend but withdrew two to three days earlier because she had to attend to duties relating to the [not uncommon] death of an Arizona border guard. ( that’s the story they put out. )

    • Draco T Bastard 7.2

      No, that’d be right. I can carry both an English passport as well as my New Zealand one. The question to be asked is Which countries those passports belong to? Not every country allows you to have dual citizenship and having more than one passport from the same country would be outright fraud.

      • Vicky32 7.2.1

        Me too, I have dual British/NZ citizenship… My question remains – just how many passports were there? Anything from 2 (3 News) to 8 (Stuff…)

      • felix 7.2.2

        Just an opinion, but I would’ve expected McCully to say the two passports were legitimate, if the man in fact had some kind of legitimate dual citizenship.

        That would shut down a lot of suspicion immediately.

        I wonder why he didn’t…

    • mik e 7.3

      SHG are you really Paul Henry be careful what you say you might get a right wing talkback shock jock job

  8. freedom 8

    The biggest tell is always in the rewriting of the story throughout the day.

    When the innocent yet socially/politically warm-fuzzy lines, such as the one mentioning how the Israeli Ambassador drove the survivors to the Airport, get removed entirely from all articles the subject is not over.

    Unfortunately i did not get any screengrabs of the earlier article versions so cannot supply the link, and a cache search in google is not yielding any results

    and Joe Bloggs ,
    don’t get too many, every good conspiracy nut knows that tinfoil hats are tracking antennae

    • Treetop 8.1

      Diplomatic immunity the moment the so called tourists were in the ambassadors car.

      • Colonial Viper 8.1.1

        Ah good point

        • Treetop 8.1.1.1

          I think the ambassador had just returned in 2010 and probably only one based in Wellington. I wonder what his schedule was that day?

          • freedom 8.1.1.1.1

            He is actually based in Canberra but was literally out the door to NZ as soon as the Quake was announced, well before any official channels could have been told about Israeli victims or survivors.

            Very strange behaviour for a Senior Diplomat.
            Completely expected behaviour for someone charged with taking a pot of the boil.

    • Treetop 8.2

      Freedom which airport were the so called tourists driven to?

      Israeli ambassador returned in May 2010 after an eight year abscence, only one is stationed in Wellington. I expect that the SIS would have monitored the ambassadors return.

      • Treetop 8.2.1

        Found this on the Israeli ambassador’s return to NZ. Saw this in the article “Only after a year and a half did Israel apologise and guarantee that a similar situation would not occur again.”
        http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3886929,00.html

      • freedom 8.2.2

        This is a question i would like to see answered officially.

        I have not been able to find any sensible detail. There are numerous references in various papers to the Ambassador after landing in NZ was driving for three to four hours to get to CHCH, which suggests a Wellington landing, and perhaps a helicopter across the straight then driving down. This obviously makes no sense in the reported timeline. Perhaps he flew into Wellington, then flew to Timaru and drove up. Or a drive up from Dunedin. If he flew into ChCh, it can only be proposed that he flew into the City under assistance from our military as the Airport was well and truely closed by the time any flights could have possibly arrived with travellers from Canberra.

        The current shortest connecting flight time for Canberra to CHCH is approximately five hours

        i have also found the article from yesterday that conflicts with most statements made by our government today. (Stuff is clever in hiding bits, but so is the net.)
        .
        http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/christchurch-earthquake-2011/5312404/Quake-victims-no-Mossad-agents
        “”I drove his three friends to the airport so they could go home. ”
        “”I was handed a parcel of his effects and it did contain more than one passport”
        – Israeli Ambassadaor

        if the Ambassador says he was given more than one passport for Mr Mizrahi
        how can we believe our Government’s insistence only one passport was given to the Ambassador for Mr Mizrahi and we have a European one found in the van

        • Treetop 8.2.2.1

          I don’t dispute that the ambassador came from Canberra. What happened to the ambassador being stationed in Wellington since May 2010? I think the roads from Kaikoura down were blocked due to the February earthquake.

          Diplomatic immunity and the ambassador being so involved is the coverup.

          • freedom 8.2.2.1.1

            Perhaps the Ambassador was visiting Australia at the time? Even Israeli reports show the Ambassador was directed to head from Canberra to ChristChurch. I have no information regarding changes to a Non-Resident Ambassador for New Zealand so his being in Australia at the time was most likely a routine duty across the ditch.

            TreeTop *** i see the source of confusion now ****
            “He is actually based in Canberra” i meant to write ‘ he was actually based in Canberra’

            i realise it is a distinct difference and i apologise for any inconvenience caused by my error

            • Treetop 8.2.2.1.1.1

              I wonder who stipulates the diplomatic immunity of an ambassador on foreign soil and where this can be accessed?

              • freedom

                i believe diplomatic immunity for actions in NZ is set under the laws of the Commonwealth and the relevant treaties to those agreements

                any diplomats out there care to clarify?
                juniour UN members?
                Squirrel?

      • mik e 8.2.3

        Yes i believe CH CH international airport was closed for several days from not long after the big Quake I smell A Very BIG RAT here while New Zealanders needed rescueing resources were being used to transport 3 backpackers out of town remember these guys are only backpackers so whatsup Mr Key it sounds almost indentical to the bin laden family being flown out texas in the US

  9. tc 9

    Wow Isareli’s operating covertly defying local law…shock horror. Sideshow doing what he does best, making a molehill into a moutain (finest PR Spin money can buy) thanks to some MSM frothing at the mouth using the 4 phone calls from Benjamin and other information conveniently available along with the usual ‘we’re so offended, why always us’ from the jewish groups.

    Meanwhile Labour launches another kiwi positive policy and that 10Bill hole in the budget is still there…..but hey we’ve got some shadows to chase and one of the most arrogant regimes in the world to bring to heel……wake up people.

  10. freedom 10

    which is true? the original …
    25/2/2011 “So far two Israeli private rescue teams have arrived in New Zealand in search of the two. ”
    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4034058,00.html (one of many many articles containing this statement)

    or the rewrite….on today’s Stuff,

    “There was only one rescue team and it was allowed inside the red zone to accompany police to retrieve backpacks”

    there are numerous reports, in papers and blogs from the time of the Earthquake, of two teams arriving as part of the Magnus S&R Operation http://www.magnus-isar.com/
    Including numerous quotes from the firms head Hilik Magnus and Shai Lanuel, a Queenstown based member of the Organisation who was dispatched on the day of theQuake.

    Remembering that most Israeli have done Military Service it is important that a general history of military service does not automatically translate to a career with Mossad.
    what does provoke the idea of clandestine operations is when governments change stories,
    S&R directors have memory issues and innocent lines containing simple information dissapear

  11. randal 11

    new zealand seems to be a bit of a whore to these bully boys who think the whole world owes them something. They haven’t stopped whingeing since 1945 and the nats are spineless when it comes to dealing with anything beyond their immediate purview wchich seems to be beating up on poor people.

  12. Jonathan 12

    This interest in the Israelis who got caught in the Christchurch earthquake goes to show that everyone loves a good mystery.
    A bit more understanding of Jewish custom and Israeli social mores makes this a lot less mysterious.
    Many Israelis have two passports while travelling abroad from Israel, some countries are anti Israel and are not friendly to travelling Israeli passport holders.
    The Jewish belief in the afterlife stresses resurrection will take place and the body you currently occupy will be the one you get in the afterlife hence the importance of ensuring all bits and pieces are placed with the recently deceased.
    There are special squads that do this after civilians and military are bombed in Israel. These forensic teams will respond and try to collect all the grisly bits for traditional burial.
    In the event of disasters abroad involving Israeli citizens such a team will be sent to scour for (Israeli) Jewish bodies. Most Israelis are also ex servicemen and servicewomen so they have a somewhat hardened attitude to death and dead comrades. It could be the other Israelis left so soon as they wanted to go home after experiencing the earthquake.
    To simply suspect that a group of travelling young Israelis were a Mossad squad on a mission simply goes to show we all love a good mystery.

    Cos’ the mystery really is – What the heck would Mossad spies be doing in Christchurch?

  13. joe bloggs 14

    The fact that the tragic roll-call of casualties included Israelis seems to be sufficient to generate allegations of wrongdoing…

    Doesn’t New Zealand have more important things to focus on???

    • ghostwhowalksnz 14.1

      You forget the so called’ rescue team ‘ removed from the red zone at gunpoint. happens every day just like the Israeli PM rings up a local PM 4 times on a day of a huge disaster

    • jackal 14.2

      Hm! Five to six passports found with the deceased Ofer Mizrahi, another one apparently belonging to him handed into Israeli officials, soon after the earthquake an Israeli ambassador visits morg and escorts remaining three Israeli’s to the airport to immediately fly home, not to mention the 2 Mosad agents caught trying to attain false passports in 2004.

      If you think there’s more important things than protecting your countries reputation by ensuring spies are not able to attain false passports to gain entry to other countries to undertake terrorist acts, your a douche bag joe bloggs. Does anybody actually believe John Key when he says it’s not suspicious?

    • freedom 15.1

      Will love to see if Key is going to talk down or ignore the reputation of Gordon Thomas,55 books, 45 million sales, guest speaker on various espionage and security issues worldwide, and writes his stuff from the desk once owned by T.E Lawrence. The last point is just trivia but he must have some good connections to have grabbed that desk in the first place.

  14. Blue 16

    @freedom – “writes his stuff from the desk once owned by T.E Lawrence.” I once wore a pair of rugby boots previously owned by Josh Kronfeld, I can assure you it didn’t make me an All Black. What horseshit.

    • freedom 16.1

      blue, i made a joke out of the T.E.Lawrence bit because it is inconsequential, compared to the wealth of conflicting data that is brewing. But if it helps you to ignore the story by focusing on irrelevancies then there is not much we can do about that.

  15. Anne 17

    Discussion on today’s ‘The Panel’ with Bernard Hickey and someone from ChCh who’s name I didn’t catch. Both made it clear they are certain something was going on!

    1) It seems the passports of the three young Israelis who survived were found in the crashed white van. So how did they manage to leave the country without any passports?

    2) How did they manage to fly out of NZ within 12 hours of the earthquake? The airport was closed and – as the panellist from ChCh pointed out – it was total gridlock on the roads so how did they even manage to get out of the city?

    Answer to 1) Diplomatic protection?
    Answer to 2) They were (quietly) helicoptered out of ChCh?

    The whole thing smacks of a major cover-up. I wonder what was in it for Key and the NAct govt?

    • ghostwhowalksnz 17.1

      Thats why the Ambassador turned up , he could supply passports and it seems they would have been driven to Auckland ( or Wellington) again by the Ambassador

  16. Anne 18

    The trouble is gwwnz:
    According to the fellow from ChCh on Radio NZ’s ‘The Panel’ nobody could get out of the city because of the damaged roads and the resultant gridlock. So how did the Ambassador – and his precious cargo – manage to do it in what was a remarkably short space of time.

  17. Anne 19

    Exactly Treetop and that is what is so disgusting about this story. Can you imagine Helen Clark conniving and covering up what was clearly a potential (at the least) act of contempt against NZ’s sovereignty? To be sure she would have adopted a mature and diplomatic stance, but she would not have allowed Israel to get away with it without a consequence.

    • Treetop 19.1

      Is the biggest coverup a deal being struck with the NZ PM, just get them out of here ASAP.

      Yes Helen is a woman of substance.

  18. randal 20

    send out for some pillars and cecil b. de-mille.

    • Anne 20.1

      Thou shalt not commit a sin against thy neighbour.

      OK, neighbour’s a bit of stretch but ya know what I meeeean..

  19. weka 21

    What does five passports mean? Passports from five different countries for one name? Or five different names for one photo, regardless of the country?

  20. randal 22

    it means multiple persoanlity syndrome.

  21. drum 23

    here we have an event that was completely covered up. the PM knew the SIS knew so what was the deal that was being done and what leverage has the PM sealed for himself or possibly the country

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