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Thread: The Tel Aviv Contractor.

  1. #1
    MANICHAEAN MANICHAEAN's Avatar
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    The Tel Aviv Contractor.

    THE TEL AVIV CONTRACTOR.

    Chapter 1.

    If you saw Aaron Bernstein in the street of Dresner Yehi’el you would not extend a second glance, or venture to note anything out of the ordinary. He was diminutive in stature, wiry, a conservative dresser and had the slow unhurried walk of a senior citizen in this northern, sought-after residential suburb of Tel Aviv. He was to all appearances just another comfortably well-off retiree, with his main years behind him.

    I should explain that for any potential buyer of property in the area mentioned, that most of them evoke postcode envy. It encompasses anything north of Ben-Gurion Boulevard and west of Ibn Gabirol St, and anything north of "Sha'ul Ha'melech" Boulevard and east of it, including the neighborhoods adjacent the Hayarkon river. It was thus, a settled peaceful location, unlikely to make any headlines in the local evening news.

    Aaron had risen early, and as was his routine, walked for half an hour, ostensibly to work up an appetite. That goal having been accomplished, he proceeded to make his favourite meal of the day “Shakshouka,” or eggs poached in a herbed tomato sauce; except that today he decided to spice it up a bit more in memory of tastes he had acquired from his Israeli army days.

    The phone rang at his desk by the window.

    “Aaron is that you? Long time my friend. You still alive?” The voice was deep, soft and yet conveyed energy. He recognized it immediately.

    Aaron looked out the apartment window down onto the quiet street below. Cars were still few, as most had already left, taking their well-heeled inhabitants to work.

    “Yes Simon, it has indeed been a long time. I'm fine thanks, retired now. What can I do for you?”

    “One more job Aaron. I want you to do just one more, a last hurrah if you like.”

    “I told you I’m retired.”

    “Retired, expired, what's the difference?” came the response. “It's good money Aaron.”

    “I’m already comfortable. Don’t need it anymore. Where is it anyway?”

    “Lebanon. Beirut to be precise. In and out. Two to three days max.”

    “But why me? Mossad has plenty of operatives.”

    “It's political” Simon replied even softer,

    Aaron paused. “You mean it's too hot, even for them? Not even semiofficial?”

    “Something like that.” The tone was conciliatory in a pendent kind of way. “Will you think about it then? Think it over and I’ll ring you again in a couple of days.”

    Aaron put down the phone.

    So much for a peaceful retirement he thought. He was well aware that his career had spanned all the main military / intelligence services in Israel. First the IDF back in 1965, then recruited by Shin Bet, and subsequently loaned out to Mossad.

    Once considered a commitment to lifelong anonymity and even invisibility in Israeli society, he knew that in today's world a Shabak agent in Shin Bet, (the country's internal intelligence agency), who achieves high rank in the service, especially director status, is considered a candidate for membership in the top brass of the Israeli government and business community. This process had followed a trend started by ex-generals and colonels of the Israel Defense Forces; the trailblazers if you like, including Moshe Dayan, Ariel Sharon, and Yitzhak Rabin.

    Career motivated at the top echelons, he understood therefore in this instance the need to utilize a middle man like Simon for any work that could go pear shape, thus distancing themselves from any repercussions.

    Mossad was a different set up, where the Metsada entity ran small units of combatants whose external counter terrorism missions included assassinations and sabotage. Within it he was aware, of the “Kidon," a unit which belonged to the Caesarea department, (one of Mossad's eight departments). Aaron knew it for what it was; an elite group of expert assassins.

    Hence the puzzle. Shin Bet was too public these days, but why was it that not even the mysterious Mossad was hands off for this job? After all, although not much was known about this mysterious unit, details of which are some of the most closely guarded secrets in the Israeli intelligence community, this unit had been a policy that Israel has used more than any other country in the West since World War II, having carried out at least 2,700 assassination missions.



    Perhaps he thought, it was the target location? Mossad had a long record of undercover work in the Lebanon: the sending of letter bombs to PFLP member Bassam Abu Sharif in 1972, the killing of the Palestinian writer and leading PFLP member Ghassan Kanafani by a car bomb in 1972, the car bomb killing of Ali Hassan Salameh, the leader of Black September, in1979 in Beirut. The list went on and on and initially operations were successful.

    For Mossad had established a large spy network in the country, recruiting from Druze, Christian, and Sunni Muslim communities, and even officials in the Lebanese government, to spy on Hezbollah and its Iranian Revolutionary Guard advisors. Some had allegedly been active since the 1982 Lebanon War.

    But then in 2009, Lebanese Security Services supported by Hezbollah's intelligence units, and working in collaboration with Syria, Iran, and possibly Russia, launched a major crackdown which resulted in the arrests of around 100 alleged spies working for Israel.

    Was this perhaps the new safer rationale to sub contract out work to more expendable, yet esoteric personnel?

    All he knew now, was that he was being asked once more to walk in that formless immeasurability that he thought he had given up; half weary of a world that was likely more than half-weary of him.

  2. #2
    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    Interesting introduction of character and location. I´m curious about the sequel.
    #Stay home as much as you can and stay well

  3. #3
    Registered User Steven Hunley's Avatar
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    The details! The setting! The authentic vocab. The suspense in this reader mirrors the suspense of Bernstein! Let us have it!

  4. #4
    MANICHAEAN MANICHAEAN's Avatar
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    Chapter 2:

    Aaron arrived first at an arranged meet with Simon, a week after the telephone call.

    The location was a small, relatively quiet café in the northern suburbs of Tel Aviv, and Aaron sat at one of the outside tables to the rear, situated up against the café external wall. His hands lay curled across his lap.

    Simon arrived shortly after, and nodding in recognition sat down opposite.

    For anyone who knew of their history and relationship, it was a story of opposites. Simon, the secular Jew was a man of instincts and insights. It had served him well in a life where it was complimentary to say, that he had earned the shadow of a name within the work he undertook. With Aaron it was not what you saw, but what you did not see. One of the roughest of lion’s whelps that was ever littered of that rough breed; yet to outside observers, or even those that thought they knew him, he seemed to just hang there in a somewhat benign metamorphosis as circumstances dictated.

    Simon was there to brief him.

    ‘As I told you over the phone Aaron, the job is in Beirut. A lot of the agencies we work with internationally, and including ourselves, are experiencing a spate of unfortunate accidents lately. We believe that Hamas, who you know controls much of the Lebanon by proxy, has hired an outsider to undertake its dirty work. They have realized that their own intensity and activity that sometimes verges towards madness, (yet does not reach it), is open to exposure. The work they have undertaken so far has been; surgical, efficient, besprent with blood & yet carries the bonus of deniability of their own involvement."

    Aaron listened quietly.

    “So, you want me to undertake a contract?”

    “What do you know of the target?”

    “Any qualms about killing a woman?” Simon interjected abruptly.

    “Not if it's justified.” was the soft reply.

    Simon looked, and focused on what he had long thought. There was no symbolic Ark, like the old Hebrews, that this man opposite bore. Yet with him too was a Covenant, as moral and practical as any in the annals of the Jewish faith.

    “We know very little of the lady concerned, not even her nationality or description. All we know is that in between assignments, she is holed up in a suite of rooms in the InterContinental Phoenicia overlooking Zaitunay Bay. Oh, and she has a yacht named “Samaya” moored near the Babel Restaurant overlooking the harbour. Very likely she meets her minder / contact from Hamas there.”

    “Why me specifically Simon?”

    The waiter came and went with two more coffees.

    “Well your cover would be good. Don’t think I’m being disrespectful, when I say that your age is a good cover, your pedigree and past work is known, and finally being a Sephardic Jew, you could pass for an Arab and arouse less suspicion.”

    “Are you in my friend?” ask Simon.

    Aaron looked and nodded.

    “Start working on the logistics” he said.

  5. #5
    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    Such a story requires a lot of information about the country and the local political circumstances specially those that are not so obvious. You seem to be very well informed, M., this beginning is convincing and fluid, congrats.
    #Stay home as much as you can and stay well

  6. #6
    MANICHAEAN MANICHAEAN's Avatar
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    Steve and Danik thank you both. Two stalwarts always prepared to read and comment.

    Luckily it helps having worked and lived all over the Middle East as background for the tale.

  7. #7
    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    I suppose the misterious woman got the better of Aaron somewhere between Lebanon and Palestina
    #Stay home as much as you can and stay well

  8. #8
    MANICHAEAN MANICHAEAN's Avatar
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    Sorry Danik. I keep meaning to get back to this tale, but not very successful yet. Cherchez la femme!!!!!

  9. #9
    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    I see! Have a good time!.
    #Stay home as much as you can and stay well

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