New Zealand media outlets are reporting of claims that the Israeli travelers killed in the Christchurch earthquake last February were in fact Mossad agents. According to The Southland Times, Israeli ambassador Shemi Tzur dismissed the claims as "science fiction."
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Tzur said he was "shocked and upset" that such suspicions would even arise.
Ofer Mizrahi was killed after a block of concrete collapsed on his car. Foreign reports suggest that a parcel of his effects contained several passports, possibly five or six. Ambassador Tzur confirmed that Mizrahi, 23, had more than one passport but was not aware of reports of as many as five or six.
Ofer Mizrahi's car after quake (Reproduction photo: Ido Erez)
Tzur rejected claims that three of Mizrahi's friends fled the country because they were Mossad agents. "I drove his three friends to the airport so they could go home. They were shocked and crying, they were just talking about their friend," he said.
Israel and New Zealand's relations have been strained since 2004's "passport affair" involving two Israelis who tried to fraudulently issue New Zealand passports. A local court ruled they were Mossad agents. New Zealand's prime minister even declared sanctions against Israel following the affair.
The crisis ended after Israel apologized 18 months later. The Israeli embassy reopened in August 2005, but remained an extension of the Canberra Embassy.
Then Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom announced the embassy will be fully reopened as soon as budget considerations allow it. Last May, the embassy in Wellington resumed operations.
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