Published On: Thu, Mar 10th, 2016

The submarine, the Mossad and the German quagmire

German TV reports that Mossad agents' cover was blown by a retiree after their car got stuck in mud.

Israeli officials on board INS Rahav Photo Israeli Defense Ministry


On January 12 of this year, the president, the prime minister, the chief of staff, and the commander of the navy attended a ceremony to mark the arrival of the German-made INS Rahav submarine. During his speech, Prime Minister Netanyahu thanked German Chancellor Angela Merkel for “strengthening (Israel’s) maritime forces.”

Newly revealed information brought to light an embarrassing incident during the submarine’s delivery.

On December 17 of 2015, NDR, a German television station, revealed that two Mossad agents had been sent to secure and accompany the INS Rahav on its journey to Israel from a shipyard in Kiel through the Northeast Passage and open seas.

According to the NDR report, the two agents drove to the town of Quarnbek, located along the Northeast passage. On their way to the sea, they encountered a locked fence with a sign reading “no entry.” They disregarded the sign, picked the lock, and proceeded to the sea. However, after driving a few meters, their Ford Focus became mired in the muddy road. The agents tried to extract the vehicle from the mud, but failed despite their best efforts.

The German TV report on the Mossad’s mishap in Kiel


The mayor of Quarnbek where the vehicle was stuck- The submarine,   the Mossad and the German quagmire

Darkness fell and the agents began looking for help from locals. Meanwhile, an elderly woman noticed them, suspected something was wrong, and called the local mayor, Klaus Langer.

“The woman asked the two men what they were doing, ” said Langer, who arrived at the scene and called police. “They told her that they came to survey the area since a sailing competition is supposed to take place in the passage this summer.”


The submarine,   the Mossad and the German quagmire 3


The police arrived quickly, searched the car, and found two pistols. At this point, the Israelis identified themselves as agents with diplomatic immunity and permission to carry weapons. Moreover, they provided the police with their passports and other documents confirming their identity and mission.


The invoice - The submarine,   the Mossad and the German quagmire (2)


Rainer Wetzel, a local police officer, told NDR that authorities had known about Israeli agents’ activities and police were informed of their names in advance. Nonetheless, Mayor Langer was not pleased that authorities chose not coordinate with him. “People in our community are concerned, ” said Langer. “The residents are asking themselves how young men can roam freely here as part of secret intelligence activities, especially armed with pistols.”

Langer added that the rescue of the vehicle was delayed for a long time and he called in a team of volunteers from the local fire department to help. “We had to summon an additional forklift, which also got stuck in the mud, and then we had no choice but to ask a local farmer to bring his tractor, ” said Florian Molt, one of the firefighters. “He tied the tractor to the vehicle using a rope and pulled it out of the mud.”

At the end of the extraction, the Germans said, “Everything happened quickly. The Mossad agents said thanks and continued on their mission.” But the local municipality refused to absorb the costs of the extraction, and Mayor Langer sent the Israeli Embassy in Berlin an invoice for 1263.01 Euros.



The Israeli embassy did not look kindly on what they said were inaccuracies in the German report. A letter sent to the mayor expressed surprise that media outlets were approached instead of the embassy.

According to the letter, the invoice was dated March 3, and the story was aired on March 4. However, the embassy said that the letter only reached it on March 7, raising the suspicion that the mayor chose to first raise the issue in the media before it could be corrected.

By Daniel Betini and Eldad Beck, Ynet News

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