Lebanon nabs Israeli ‘spy’ bird
Illeagle activitiesIlleagle activities

Lebanon nabs Israeli ‘spy’ bird

Hunters catch eagle with Tel Aviv University tags and turn it over to authorities; unlikely to change regional balance of power

Lazar Berman is a former breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

An eagle flying over southern Israel (photo credit: Yoav Perlman/Israel Ornithological Center, Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel)
An eagle flying over southern Israel (photo credit: Yoav Perlman/Israel Ornithological Center, Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel)

The Lebanese security establishment scored a major coup with the capture of a high-flying Israeli “spy.”

Lebanese blogs reported Wednesday that an eagle was trapped by a group of local hunters in the Maronite Catholic town of Ashqout, who noticed that the bird had a tag around his ankle with the word “Israel,” as well as an abbreviation for Tel Aviv University, and the number 5278. The eagle had a transmitter on his back, according to the blog Lebanon Debate.

The men decided the bird was likely a Mossad spy on a mission for Israel, and handed it over to security authorities for investigation.

This is not the first time Israel’s neighbors believed they caught an avian spy.

In August, Egyptian authorities detained a stork that a citizen suspected of being a spy because of a transmitter on its back, which turned out to be French.

A month earlier, Turkey released a Kestrel with a tag reading “24311 Tel Avivunia Israel,” but only after a thorough investigation into the suspicious bird’s activities in the country.

In December 2012, Sudan captured a hawk it suspected of carrying spy equipment for Israel because of its tags reading “Israel Nature Authority” and “Hebrew University Jerusalem.”

In May of that year, Turkish authorities claimed to have caught a European bee-eater that, they said, might have had Mossad spying equipment implanted in one of its nostrils. The bird had an ostensibly incriminating band on its leg marked “Israel.”

In 2011, Saudi Arabian media reported the capture of a griffon vulture that had Israeli “spying equipment,” marked “Tel Aviv University,” attached to one of its legs.

Earlier this year, an Egyptian security guard filed a police report after capturing a pigeon he said carried microfilm. A previous rumor in 2010 blamed a series of shark attacks along Egypt’s Mediterranean coast on an Israeli plot.

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