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Israel contributed to hostage rescue operation

Article published on the 2008-07-04 Latest update 2008-07-04 13:52 TU

Colombian military escort Ingrid Betancourt in Bogota on 2 July 2008(Photo: Reuters)

Colombian military escort Ingrid Betancourt in Bogota on 2 July 2008
(Photo: Reuters)

As French-Colombian politician Ingrid Betancourt heads back to Paris, Israeli military radio has reported that Israeli security experts helped prepare the Colombian army operation that freed her and 14 hostages on Tuesday. Two former high-level military officers run a security company in Colombia that has a ten million dollar (six million euro) contract with the Colombian government.

“There are no precedents for such a perfect operation,” Betancourt said on Thursday. “Maybe in Israel they can pull off operations like the one today.”

According to Israeli newspaper Haaretz, two retired high-level reserve officers, Israel Ziv and Yossi Kuperwasser, own Global CST (Comprehensive Security Transformation), which has a contract to help the Colombian army against the Farc rebels who were holding the hostages.

Global CST co-ordinated dozens of security experts assisting the operation, including former generals and former Mossad and Shin Beth agents.

But Ziv insisted that the operation was Colombian.

“It’s a Colombian Entebbe operation,” he said Thursday, referring to the 1976 Israeli raid on a plane taken hostage by a Palestinian group at Uganda Entebbe airport.

Israel is Colombia’s top arms supplier. The army has access to Israeli Tavor assault rifles, along with Israeli drones, surveillance systems and special bombs to destroy coca plantations. The Colombians also have US-provided M-4 rifles and Blackhawk helicopters.