Historical Dictionary of Israeli Intelligence

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by the group on secret missions to the Palestinian Arab community,
traveling under cover as an Arab cattle merchant. Fearing for his
safety, his father sent him to study in a naval school in France, where
he learned French. After returning to Palestine, he attended a Scottish
school and acquired a Scottish accent as well.
In 1951 Ben-Yair was a suspect in an assassination attempt aimed
at the Israeli minister of transportation, Zvi Pinkas, in protest against
the introduction of restrictions on public transport during the Sab-
bath. He was also a close friend of Yitzhak Shamirfrom the Stern
Group, and he followed Shamir into the Mossadin 1955.
Ben-Yair operated on behalf of the Mossad in Egypt, posing as a
Belgian cattle expert under the assumed name Francois Renancoeur.
Rising to the level of Egypt’s government consultant on livestock,
Shaaltiel Ben-Yair thus became one of Israel’s most successful agents
in Egypt. During the first half of the 1960s, he was able to obtain valu-
able information about military bases and sensitive installations in
Egypt, as well as to map Egyptian airfields. This contributed greatly to
the success of the 1967 Six-Day War, when the Israel Air Force
achieved victory in less than six hours by eliminating nearly all of the
Arab air forces on the ground during the initial air attack on 5 June

  1. By the time the Six-Day War broke out, however, Ben-Yair was
    already living far away from Israel and Middle East conflicts. After re-
    tiring from the Mossad in 1962, he had returned to Israel, but had found
    it too difficult to get adjusted to the normal life of an ordinary citizen.
    Consequently, he chose to leave the country and settle in Canada.

BILU. The Bilu movement was founded in Kharkov, Russia, in 1882 by
Jewish students reacting to the pogroms taking place in Russia at the
time. Their goal was to resettle Palestine (the Land of Israel). The
first 14 members of Bilu arrived in Palestine in July 1882. The initial
Bilu members settled in Mikve Israel and Rishon L’Tzion as
farmhands. In 1884, some members of Bilu formed the settlement of
Gedera, while others learned a trade and settled in Jerusalem. The
name Bilu was adopted by the intelligence organization Nativ soon
after its establishment. It is the Hebrew acronym for a line from the
book of Isaiah “Bet Ya’akov L’chu V’Nelcha” (“O House of Jacob,
come ye and let us go”).


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