Israel could have prevented the bombing that killed 241 Marines in Lebanon in 1983 but it chose not to give the Americans details of the plot, according to a book about Israel’s fabled Mossad intelligence agency.
The book, “By Way of Deception: The Making and Unmaking of a Mossad Officer,” was written by Victor Ostrovsky, a Canadian-born artist who grew up in Israel and said he served in the agency for four years starting in 1983.
At the request of the Israeli government, a New York state judge issued an order Wednesday temporarily barring St. Martin’s Press from distributing the book. A similar order was obtained this week in Canada.
The Israeli government sought the ban, saying the book contained information that could “endanger the lives of various people in the employ of the state of Israel, and would be detrimental to the government of the state of Israel.”
The 300-page manuscript, written in collaboration with Canadian journalist Claire Hoy, purports to name many Mossad agents and supervisors as it describes in detail Mossad’s training program and many of its alleged operations.
In the summer of 1983, the book says, a Mossad informant told his contact in Beirut that a large Mercedes truck was being outfitted by Shiite Muslim radicals with compartments for bombs.
According to the book, the informant said the hidden spaces in the truck were large, and Mossad deduced the target had to be big. “Now the Mossad knew that, for size, there were only a few logical targets, one of which must be the U.S. compound,” Ostrovsky writes.
The Mossad decided to give its CIA allies only a general warning, he adds. Refusing to give them specifics, Mossad chief Nahum Admoni is quoted as having said: “No, we’re not there to protect Americans. They’re a big country.”
CIA spokesman Mark Mansfield said his agency would have no comment on the book.