Poisoning toothpaste….triggering explosion through cell phones…… bombs dropped from flying drones! Since its creation in 1948, Israel has carried out nearly 2,700 ‘secret’ assassination operations in the last 70 years. Although many of these attempts have not been successful, the success rate of Israel is far better than the Western countries.

After a long interaction with the Israeli spies, journalist Ronen Bergman has penned a book – ‘Rise and Kill First: The Secret History of Israel’s Targeted Assassinations’. In his publication based on 1,000 interviews and thousands of documents, Bergman narrates various ‘strange’ methods – adopted by the Israeli spies over the years – to eliminate personalities who in some way or the other proved to be threat to them.

Before writing the book, the 45-year-old Israeli journalist met a number of agents of Mossad and Shin Bet – the two intelligence organisations of his country. Bergman also interviewed some senior Army officers who were allegedly involved in such ‘expeditions’. The 600-page book has enough information to ‘surprise’ the readers.

The essence of those secret missions of Israel was: “If someone comes to kill you, rise up and kill him first” (an ancient Jewish Talmud admonition). The Army officers argue that such missions help avoid ‘costly’ warfare. They claim that a person will die within a month, if someone mixes poison in his/her toothpaste. Bergman – the intelligence correspondent for ‘Yediot Aharonot’ daily – mentions in his book that Mossad killed an Iranian nuclear scientist by using this method. An Israeli Army officer has admitted that they killed at least 12 Iranian scientists through various methods after receiving the information that Tehran was secretly implementing nuclear programmes. He further revealed that Mossad assassinated an Iranian scientist through explosives kept in the spare tyre of his car. The Israeli intelligence agency killed another Iranian scientist by dropping a bomb on his car from a home-made drone.

Israel also killed a number of Islamist leaders who backed the Palestinian movement. Interestingly, Bergman’s publication hints that the Israeli spies secretly killed former Palestinian President Yasser Arafat on November 11, 2004. However, it has not been possible for the author to narrate the death of Arafat in his book. Bergman said that Israeli military censorship prevented him from revealing the facts.

Despite the many interviews, including with former Prime Ministers Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert, the author said that his country’s secret services tried to interfere in his work and to disrupt his research. However, those attempts failed to stop Bergman from revealing tactics of the Israeli secret services to assassinate famous personalities in his book published on January 22, 2018.

Koushik Das, based in the Indian capital of New Delhi, is a senior news editor with more than 15 years of experience. He also runs a blog - Boundless Ocean of Politics. E-Mail: [email protected]