Historical Dictionary of Israeli Intelligence

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Soon after the capture of the espionage network’s members in
Egypt, Gibli tried to activate a wide-ranging European lobby to ease
the Egyptians’ treatment of their prisoners, who were being interro-
gated under torture in despicable conditions in an Egyptian jail. Gibli
even tried to obtain their release. Contacts were made with Couve de
Murville, a member of the French parliament, and Daniel Maier, a
leading British lawyer. Because of the torture, Marcelle Ninio tried to
commit suicide but failed.
The trial began on 11 December 1954. The verdicts and sentences,
delivered in January 1955, spanned a broad range. Cohen and Na’im
were acquitted. Meyuhas and Za’afran were sentenced to 7 years in
prison, Ninio and Dassa to 15 years, and Levy and Nathanson to life
imprisonment. Shmuel Azzar and Moshe Marzouk were sentenced to
death and executed. The Israeli handlers of the network, John Darling
(Avraham Dar) and Paul Frank (Avri Elad), were not apprehended
but were tried in absentia and given death sentences.Max Binnet, the
Israeli spy apprehended with the network but not directly involved in
its operations, committed suicide in jail on 21 December 1954.
For many years, Israel denied any connection to the bombings in
Egypt. The Israeli army censor prevented the Israeli press from even
mentioning the case. As the story was published in the foreign press,
Israeli inner circles began to demand the establishment of a commis-
sion of inquiry, but the Israeli press was still allowed to mention only
the senior officer who was responsible for the “bad business” (the di-
rector of MI, Gibli) and the “third man” (Avri Elad). No reference to
the affair itself was allowed. Only the Israeli weekly Ha’Olam
Ha’Zeh, without the censor’s permission, published the story with an
invented name of the country involved.
Nevertheless, the scandal became known and Lavon was forced to
resign. David Ben-Gurion returned from his private life in Kibbutz
Sde Boker and replaced Lavon as minister of defense.
In 1960, new evidence became known from a secret trial of Elad
in 1958. Today there is apparently much evidence that he had be-
trayed the Jewish network in Egypt. No one in the Israeli establish-
ment was concerned to question him about this, fearing the opening
of a Pandora’s box regarding the person who gave the order to acti-
vate the Jewish network for its work of sabotage in Egypt. Lavon
asked Ben-Gurion to exonerate him. Ben-Gurion refused, not believ-


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