RAMAT AVIV MALL, FEBRUARY 15, 2015
Aharon didn’t beat about the bush. “It has to be her. That combination of professionalism and irresponsibility has her name written all over it,” he said in anger. By “her,” he was referring to Ya’ara Stein.
Michael took affront. “You’re dumping this whole thing on her without a shred of proof. You’re still mad at her about the Cobra assassination, and you know as well as I do that the hit on him was the right thing to do ultimately.”
“I don’t want to argue with you. In any event, what she did was a gross violation of my instructions. When she gets an idea in that head of hers, she runs with it without regard for anything or anyone. She’s arrogant, your friend. And reckless. Arrogant, wild, and irresponsible.”
“You’re angry, Aharon, and anger offers bad counsel.”
“Do you know where she is? Have you spoken to her in the past few days?”
“We don’t have that kind of a relationship. I haven’t seen or spoken to Ya’ara since the Cobra affair. And run it by me one more time: What’s your connection to this whole story? And more important, what’s mine?”
“The Mossad chief summoned me. She thought I was doing something behind her back again. And when I’m involved, you are, too. And I’m telling you now, Israelis were the ones who carried out those targeted killings, highly professional and with a very personal agenda. We need to stop it. And first things first, find Ya’ara.”
- • •
Ya’ara didn’t answer Michael’s call. She might have changed her number. He wasn’t aware of her current address. He managed to get hold of her father in Kiryat Haim, and he said she’d been spending a lot of time overseas recently, in Berlin, doing something in the film world. She had a German phone number, he said, but he doesn’t call. He didn’t want to bother her. She called from time to time, and mailed him, too. If Michael wanted, he would email Ya’ara to tell her that someone by the name of Michael Turgeman was looking for her. No, his daughter had never mentioned him. No, he couldn’t give him her address in Israel or phone number overseas. And not her email address either. If she wanted to, she would contact him.
Aharon had told him that Ido, the bureau chief, was coordinating the handling of the matter on behalf of the head of the Mossad and would help him with whatever he needed. Michael asked Ido to check the Interior Ministry’s records to see if Ya’ara was in the country or abroad somewhere. He asked for her border-crossing history, in and out of Israel, for the previous six months. He asked for wiretaps on her father’s phones, and for a number for Ya’ara’s German phone, and maybe other phones she was using, too, based on her father’s incoming and outgoing call records, from both his landline at home and his cellphone. He asked for a wiretap on Ya’ara’s Israeli phone and a location for the phone over the past six months. If they were able to identity foreign phones that Ya’ara was using, he wanted them to try to locate them, but without asking for assistance from outside elements. In no way were they to involve foreign intelligence officials. Ido said all his requests required the approval of the head of the Shin Bet security service, and Michael said Ido wasn’t the Mossad director’s bureau chief for nothing and should do whatever needed to be done. He knew he was asking a lot, and he, too, wasn’t sure if anything would come of all the inquiries. He was hoping with all his heart that Ya’ara had nothing to do with the assassinations, but feared his hopes would be crushed. But he knew at the same time that if Ya’ara was in some kind of trouble, he should be on her side. Should be. Wanted to be.
- • •
When it is called for, the Mossad and Shin Bet know how to work very quickly. That’s how Michael learned that Ya’ara had spent the majority of the past six months overseas. She was abroad now, too, with her last departure from Israel a month earlier. Her Israeli phone went with her, but remained switched off for most of the time. Berlin was the only place in Europe where she had used that phone. They also identified two German phone numbers from which she had called her father several times. They must have been her phones. One of them was located the night before in Oxford, England.
“Is she connected somehow to this whole business—that young woman?” Ido asked.
“It’s something I need to check.”
- • •
When Michael updated Aharon Levin, he stressed that he had come up with no information linking Ya’ara to Brussels or London, and certainly not on the dates the assassinations took place.
“I want you to go to her,” Aharon decided. “Even if it’s a shot in the dark. Yes, you could simply call her German phone, but if she has something to hide, she’ll feel under pressure and disappear on you. She’ll also wonder how you got her number, and you definitely won’t want to tell her that there’s a tap on her father’s phone. That’s all we need.”
“Why would she think of a wiretap? I’ll tell her I got her number from her father.”
“She’ll check with him and he’ll deny it, of course. You won’t get away with that story.” Aharon paused for a moment, deep in thought. “Unless,” he continued, voicing the idea in his mind out loud, “unless we have him arrested and thus unavailable for forty-eight hours.”
“I’m going to forget you suggested that,” Michael responded. “You can leave the Mossad, but apparently the Mossad never leaves you. Excuse me for saying so, Aharon, but that’s an abhorrent idea. It wouldn’t work anyway. There’s nothing to justify arresting him like that, and as someone with so much experience under his belt, you should know it.”
Aharon didn’t like Michael’s tone. He would never have dared to speak to him like that in the past. “Reasons of state security would justify an arrest. Far more serious things than holding someone in custody for two days have been done in the name of state security.” But he knew Michael had a point. “You know what? The best thing would be for you to get yourself to London, and then straight on to Oxford. We’ll try to guide you to her by tracking her phone location, if possible. You used to be an excellent field operative. You’ll find her. That’s the best way to go about it. Something like this can’t be handled from afar. You need to look her in the eyes when you speak to her.”