Israel’s Sin Bet secret service planted ten sleeper agents in Arab-Israeli villages after the establishment of Israel and allowed them to marry and raise families, the Yediot Achranot daily reported Sunday.
The agents, all Jews of Iraqi extraction, were sent to the villages in case the locals joined Arab forces in an all-out war with Israel, the daily said.
Prior to their infiltration, the ten spent a year learning the Koran, Palestinian dialect, and spying techniques.
Armed with new identities and detailed cover stories, they were sent to various Arab villages and towns, pretending to be refugees from the 1948-49 Arab-Israeli war who were returning to Israel.
Their families in Israel were not told what they were doing and were discouraged from trying to find out.
Once established in their new homes, the sleepers were expected by village elders to take wives, and were encouraged by their handlers back in Tel Aviv to do so, to give their cover greater depth.
Many of them did in fact marry, without revealing their real identities to their new wives.
‘The boys had no option,’ Sami Moriah, the senior member of the unit, said. ‘It would have looked suspicious if young men went around alone without a partner. When we dispatched them on the mission, we did not order them to marry, but it was clear there was such an expectation.’
With the passing of time, pressure grew on the Shin Bet to bring the agents home, especially as it became clear that their use was limited.
Once back in Israel, many of the families experienced difficulties. ‘We tried to rehabilitate them, but did not really succeed,’ Moriah said.
The children, he said, suffered traumas. They tried to forget their past, where they came from but were not able.
‘Some were exceptional and succeeded in life, but the majority did not. They suffer from problems until today.’