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Italian press questions circumstances of ex-Mossad agent’s death

The Italian newspaper La Republicca suggests that the Israeli and Italian passengers on the boat that capsized on Lake Maggiore were actually spy agents celebrating cooperation.
Rescuers prepare to search following a capsized boat at Lake Maggiore, Italy, May 29, 2023.

A report published on Friday by the Italian newspaper La Repubblica claims that the Mossad and Italian intelligence people who were on the boat that capsized earlier this week at Lake Maggiore in northern Italy, were not vacationing there, but actually working together to prevent Iran from obtaining advanced weapons.

The incident occurred last Sunday. Unexpected bad weather caused a boat sailing on Lake Maggiore to capsize. Four out of the 23 passengers drowned, including retired Mossad agent Erez Shimoni, in his fifties. The three others that drowned were two Italian intelligence officers and the Russian wife of the boat captain. The other passengers managed to swim to the shores and save themselves.

The official Italian version said that the boat capsized because of an unexpected, violent storm while the Israelis and the Italians were celebrating a passenger's birthday. Other reports in Italy noted that the boat was overloaded, carrying 23 people instead of the 15 authorized. The boat's skipper, Carlo Carminati, is currently being investigated by Italian police because of the number of passengers on board. 

The Italian authorities said the incident was not the result of any terror attack. That being said, after the incident, several reports were published in Italy and elsewhere over the true nature of the trip. La Repubblica reported that ten Israeli Mossad or ex-Mossad agents who survived the incident were flown back to Israel very rapidly, on a private Mossad airplane. It also suggested that the Israeli and Italian agents were celebrating after an operation.

Israeli censorship initially banned the publication of Shimoni’s name, removing the gag only after several foreign news outlets published the information. Shimoni had retired, but according to the New York Times, he continued to serve from time to time, and had arrived with Israeli colleagues to Italy as part of cooperative relations between the two spy organizations. Shimoni was laid to rest in the southern city of Ashkelon. Many Mossad employees attended the funeral wearing surgical masks, so as not to have their faces exposed.

"Because of his service for the Mossad, little can be told about him. The Mossad lost a dear friend, a loyal and professional worker who dedicated his life to the security of the State of Israel, for several years and also after retiring. The Mossad shares the grief of the family, which it will continue to accompany and embrace," said a statement published by the Israeli spy agency. 

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