Historical Dictionary of Israeli Intelligence

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BEN-PORAT, MORDECHAI (1923– ).Born in Iraq, Ben-Porat im-
migrated to Palestine. He served in the Israel Defense Forces during
the 1948–1949 War of Independence. After he retired from military
service, Ben-Porat joined the Mossad Le’Aliyah Bethand was sent
back to Iraq in the fall of 1949 to arrange the illegal immigration of
the Jewish community there to Israel. From 1949 to 1951, he and
Yehuda Tajjar organized the smuggling of the Iraqi Jews in Ezra and
Nehemiah Operationfrom Iraq to Israel via Iran. Through these op-
erations, Ben-Porat succeeded in bringing 120,400 Jews to Israel. He
was arrested four times in Iraq for his efforts, which included mass
transport by planes, trains, and automobiles and even on foot. He of-
ten dressed in Bedouin clothing to find safe passage. He once lost two
teeth in a beating by Iraqi police.

BEN-PORAT, YOEL (1931– ).Born in Poland, Ben-Porat immigrated
to Palestine in 1937. He was drafted into the Israel Defense Forces
(IDF) in 1950 and served in variety of tasks in Military Intelligence
(MI). In 1972 Ben-Porat was appointed commander of the Central
Warning Unit (Unit 848) and was promoted to colonel. On the night
of 30 September/1 October 1973, some days before the outbreak of
the Yom Kippur War, Marwan Ashrafinformed his Mossadcase
officer that the Egyptian maneuvers expected to start on 1 October
would evolve into a war. Ben-Porat took this warning most seriously
and upgraded the alert in his unit. His assessment ran counter to that
of the Research Division, however, which dismissed any likelihood of
a war being launched by Egypt on 1 October. Obeying orders from his
MI commanders, he downgraded the alert in his unit. On the evening
of 4 October, following the information collected by Unit 848 that the
Soviet Union intended to evacuate forthwith the families of the Soviet
advisers in Egypt and in Syria simultaneously, Ben-Porat again up-
graded the alert in his unit.
Ben-Porat’s command of Unit 848 ended in mid-1976 and he was
appointed as IDF spokesman. Thereafter Unit 848 was renamed Unit
8200. His next posts in the IDF were as an instructor at the IDF Na-
tional Security College and then as military attaché at the Israeli em-
bassy in Washington; with the latter position, he was promoted to
brigadier general. In 1984 the director of MI, Major General Ehud
Barak, tasked Ben-Porat to analyze the failure of the Yom Kippur


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