- The Washington Times - Monday, October 4, 2004

JERUSALEM — Two former Israeli intelligence chiefs are threatening to take each other to court over a security leak related to the 1973 Yom Kippur War.

The head of the Mossad at the time of the war, retired Gen. Zvi Zamir, has written to Attorney General Menachem Mazuz to request an investigation of suspicions that retired Gen. Eli Zeira, the former head of military intelligence, leaked the identity of the spy who warned Israel of impending war several hours before Egypt and Syria launched a massive two-front attack.

Gen. Zeira, in turn, told Israel’s Channel Two television that he intended to sue Gen. Zamir for defamation.

The purported spy was identified last year by Israeli writer Ahron Bregman as Ashraf Marwan, the son-in-law of former Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser, who had died three years before the war. Gen. Zeira, who was interviewed by Mr. Bregman, denied that he was the source of the information.

In his letter to the attorney general, Gen. Zamir, along with two other former senior intelligence officers, said Gen. Zeira had “violated all norms” by supposedly leaking the spy’s identity. This, the letter said, would make it more difficult in the future for Israel to ensure potential foreign agents that their identity would be safeguarded.

The clash of the two former intelligence chiefs, who had worked closely together when they were on active duty, illustrates the unusual hold on the Israeli psyche of that war, during which, for a time, Israeli leaders feared that the nation would collapse.

Gen. Zeira, the military intelligence chief, was named by a postwar inquiry commission as the chief culprit in the intelligence failure that permitted Egypt and Syria to achieve a devastating surprise attack. Despite an abundance of signs that the Arabs were preparing to go to war, Gen. Zeira had insisted that they were not.

As head of the Mossad, Gen. Zamir was out of the decision-making loop on military matters but was skeptical about Gen. Zeira’s analysis. On the eve of Yom Kippur, Gen. Zamir flew to London to meet an Egyptian-based superspy, identified by the inquiry commission only as “the Source,” who informed him that Egypt and Syria would attack the next day.

Gen. Zamir’s warning reached Israeli leaders at 4 a.m. on Yom Kippur, 10 hours before the attack began, providing barely enough time to get the mobilization process started. Without that warning, Israel’s dire position would have been catastrophic.

Mr. Bregman’s otherwise bland book published last year in England, “A History of Israel,” contained one intriguing nugget, a reference to the spy as “the son-in-law.” When interviewed by an Egyptian journalist about it, he identified the spy as Mr. Marwan, Mr. Nasser’s son-in-law.

Mr. Marwan,who denied the claim, is a wealthy businessman with interests in Egypt and Europe.

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