Israel removes buried explosive spy gear in Jordan

Israel removes buried explosive spy gear in Jordan

Surveillance equipment, planted during the 1960s to listen in on kingdom, discovered a year ago after massive explosion

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Ajloun and the surrounding area. (photo credit: CC ASA 3.0/Wikimedia/Daniel Case)
Ajloun and the surrounding area. (photo credit: CC ASA 3.0/Wikimedia/Daniel Case)

The commander of the Jordanian armed forces revealed on Monday that Israeli experts have been busy removing old surveillance equipment and explosives from an underground listening post in a coordinated project to prevent damage or injury.

At a press conference in Amman, Lieutenant General Mashal Mohammad Al Zaben said the equipment was buried near the town of Ajloun in the northwest of the country decades ago, probably to eavesdrop on communications by the Jordanian army’s 2nd Division, Ynet reported.

The project, kept under wraps from the until its completion, marked the end of an 18-month hunt to track down and safely remove unmanned Israeli spying devices planted in Jordan around 1969.

Zaben said the Israeli team brought all the necessary equipment needed to dig up the items.

The saga began on 4th February 2013 with a large explosion on the Al-Khalidiya-Mafraq highway in Jordan.

Jordanian army investigators concluded that the explosion was caused by a charge attached to a buried, defunct, Israeli surveillance post that had gone undetected for decades.

The blast, Zaben said, was not deliberate, and was probably caused by vibrations setting off the explosives, which were likely part of a booby-trap connected to the device.

There were no injuries from the blast.

Officials began checking maps and identified five sites around the country where they suspected there was similar apparatus buried roughly 1.5-2 meters below the surface.

The Jordanians asked Israel for more details about the sites, what equipment was in each one, how much explosives and how they worked.

Although Israel provided the necessary information, natural shifts in the terrain over the last 44 years made identifying the exact locations of the devices difficult, dragging the operation out for a year and half.

Four of the sites were in unpopulated areas and Jordanian engineers were able to safely remove the equipment and explosives, apparently by controlled detonation of the charges.

However, the last site was in the middle of a main road, near the Ajloun University and other civilian structures. Due to the delicacy of the situation, and the large amount of explosives at the site, the Jordanian army asked Israel to do the work.

Israeli experts brought excavation and electronic equipment to remove the spy equipment and the operation was a success, Zaben said.

The Israeli military did not offer any immediate comment.

Israel and Jordan signed a peace treaty in 1994.

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