The senior Mossad officer who helped bring Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal back from the clutches of death two decades ago, has now called on Mashaal to adopt a less extreme stance in the current conflict with Israel, telling the Telegraph that Hamas’s position is leading Israelis and Palestinians into ever more dire straits.
Mishka Ben-David was in Jordan in 1997 when he helped transfer the antidote to a deadly poison to Mashaal, following a major diplomatic incident involving a botched assassination attempt.
In an article published Sunday, Ben-David told the Telegraph that he should be the person to appeal to the Hamas politburo chief.
“I thought that it is time to address the rational side of Khaled Mashaal,” Mishka Ben-David told the British paper. “And I thought that I am the person to do so, because I’m the person who had a hand in reviving him.”
Ben-David, a novelist and former school principal, was the chief intelligence officer of the Mossad’s operational unit, Caesarea, when, in 1997, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided to quietly assassinate Mashaal in Amman.
The plan — to kill Mashaal with a spray of lethal toxin, which would leave no trace — backfired when the Mossad agents were caught.
Ben-David, undercover in an Amman hotel, carried an antidote to the lethal poison in case one of the Mossad officers was exposed to the toxins. He told Yedioth Ahronoth in a 2005 interview that he had nearly disposed of the incriminating evidence of the antidote when he received a call from a Mossad commander to go down to the lobby of his hotel and hand the material over to a waiting Jordanian officer.
He describes the current conflict as a grizzly bear fighting a wildcat — “Everyone knows the grizzly bear will defeat the wildcat, but it will still suffer and get many scratches” — and tells the Telegraph that Mashaal should allow “more pragmatic forces” within Hamas to come to terms with Israel, as the PLO has done.
“Because if you can’t change and you stick to your positions, you’re going to see more and more dead Palestinians,” he says. “You are really creating the destruction of Gaza.”