Betancourt rescue in Colombia: Israeli connection - Israel News, Ynetnews

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Ingrid Betancourt upon arrival at military airport Photo: Reuters
Ingrid Betancourt upon arrival at military airport Photo: Reuters
Rescue Helicopter Photo: AFP
Rescue Helicopter Photo: AFP
FARC official Nelly Avial Moreno Photo: Reuters
FARC official Nelly Avial Moreno Photo: Reuters

Betancourt rescue in Colombia: Israeli connection

(Video) Colombian hostage Ingrid Betancourt mentions Israel in shower of praise following her rescue; most likely not by chance. Israeli advising team, headed by former Sayeret Matkal officer Maj.-Gen. (Res.) Israel Ziv, may have been involved in operation

Published: 07.04.08, 09:08 / Israel News

VIDEO - “I am unaware of a precedent to such a perfect mission. Maybe only the Israelis…their wonderful commandos may be reminiscent of the mission that took place here.” This is how kidnapped Colombian politician Ingrid Betancourt described the daring rescue operation that brought her back to her family.


Betancourt was released on Wednesday in a complicated military campaign involving months of planning. It came into affect without one shot being fired.


Video courtesy of


The rescue of Betancourt and 14 additional hostages was made possible after the army succeeded in entrapping the rebels holding them in custody and causing them to place Betancourt and the rest of the captives on an unidentifiable helicopter which was supposedly intended on bringing them to a different camp.

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Betancourt’s reference to Israel’s military history is most likely not by chance. Last year, a group of Israeli military advisors, receiving approval from the Israeli Defense Ministry, resided in Colombia in order to assist the army there and especially the special units.


The Israeli consultation was focused mainly on intelligence issues, special operations and integration and coordination between different security elements. This was in order to prepare them for a coordinated and productive campaign within a short period of time.


The group was headed by Major-General (Res.) Israel Ziv, who served as the head of operations in the elite Sayeret Matkal unit up until four years ago.


Ziv and at least some of his men have already returned but it is likely that the consultation he gave to the Colombian security forces assisted them in attaining the list of successes they have been enduring lately against the FARC rebel organization.

Betancourt hugs daughter after rescue (Photo: AP)


It is estimated, that the Israeli advisors did not participate in the impressive mission. In discussions with those close to him, Ziv emphasized that while in Colombia, he punctiliously abstains from actually involving himself in Colombia’s military and security operations and is content with solely supplying them with advice.


However, there is no doubt that the Israeli counseling, especially in the realm of intelligence and that connected with the use of covert operational tactics, greatly assisted the Colombian security forces in improving their capabilities.


In the past year, the rebels suffered great blows including the killing of their organization’s second-in-command; an operation that led to a severe diplomatic crisis between Venezuela and Ecuador and the arrest of one of their leaders who turned herself in, to the army.


Following her arrest, FARC senior official, Nelly Avila Moreno even said that her organization is “on the brink of collapse.” How much of the success can be attributed to the Israeli advisers? That will remain a mystery.


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