Mike Harari, an Israeli secret service agent who played a major role in planning Mossad's revenge attacks against Palestinian militants implicated in the 1972 Munich massacre of the country's Olympic team, has died. He was 87.
Harari, who died Sunday in Tel Aviv, was "one of the great warriors for Israel's security," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement.
Also involved in planning Israel's dramatic rescue of hostages held by militants in Entebbe, Uganda, in 1976, Harari was best known for his part in planning Mossad's missions in the aftermath of the Munich attack. The militants first killed two Israeli athletes at the Olympic village in the German city, then took others hostage in an attempt to flee unharmed.
Nine of the hostages were subsequently killed in a gunbattle between German police and the militants.
The Munich revenge attacks were collectively known as "Operation Wrath of God." For nearly a year, Mossad agents targeted Palestinian militants throughout Europe, frequently shooting their victims from close range.
One was a Moroccan waiter gunned down in the Norwegian town of Lillehammer in 1973 in a case of mistaken identity. Norwegian prosecutors indicted Harari for that killing in 1998.
He was depicted by Israeli actor Moshe Ivgy in Steven Spielberg's 2005 film "Munich," a fictionalized version of the assassinations of European operatives of the Palestinian Black September movement.
"Most of what Mike Harari did for the security of Israel as a fighter and commander in the Mossad is not publicly known, and will never be known," Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon told Bloomberg News on Monday. "But all those who knew him understand we are talking about a man who carried out exceptional and groundbreaking operations, with a brave heart and creative prowess."
Harari was born in Tel Aviv in 1927 and served in the pre-state Haganah militia and Israel's Shin Bet internal security agency before joining the Mossad in 1954.
After retiring from the Mossad, Harari was cited by some media reports as serving as a security adviser to Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega before the 1989 U.S. invasion of the Latin American state. Harari gave a rare interview on Israeli television to deny that report, as well as rumors he had been briefly arrested in Panama by American forces.
According to "The Master of Operations," a biography of Harari published this year, the former agent continued to advise the Mossad into his 80s.