Israeli and Italian spies dying in freak boat accident sparks conspiracy theories

Some are claiming it was a revenge operation by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, while others are asking if the operatives were surveilling local Russian magnates

editor: REMIX NEWS
author: Index
A helicopter searches for missing people after a tourist boat capsized in a storm on Italy's Lago Maggiore in the northern Lombardy region, Sunday, May 28, 2023. (© Vigili Del Fuoco via AP)

An accident that occurred on Lake Maggiore in Italy following a storm resulted in at least four deaths — but these were not just any victims. Among the people on board the capsized boat were Italian and Israeli spies, with the team allegedly celebrating a birthday together when disaster struck. The story has dominated Italian headlines following news of the large number of spies on board the boat, and fueled speculation about how they perished.

So far, the Italian and Israeli governments are mostly keeping quiet about the case, according to Hungarian news outlet Index.

The accident happened on May 26, but while reports indicate between 20 and 22 people were on board, the exact number remains unclear. According to the New York Times, there were 13 Mossad spies and eight Italian spies.

According to witnesses, the ship sank very quickly due to a sudden storm.

The official explanation was that the participants were attending the birthday celebration of a retired Mossad agent. This is why the Israeli government sent a special plane to Milan to collect the body of the retired secret agent. The only definite Israeli victim is former Mossad operative Erez Shimoni, who was buried on the last day of May.

The Italian authorities have admitted that two former intelligence agents, Claudio Alonzi, aged 53, and Tiziana Barnobi, aged 62, were among the victims. The victims may include a Russian woman who is reportedly the wife of the ship’s owner and captain, Euronews reported.

“The Mossad has lost a dear friend, a dedicated and professional member who dedicated his life for decades to the security of the State of Israel. Given his service to the agency, his identity cannot be disclosed,” reads a statement from the Israeli government.

The first conspiracy theories have already appeared: Many say it is inconceivable that a storm of such magnitude could rage across the barely 10-kilometer-wide Italian lake, sinking a yacht and causing fatalities. However, high winds were recorded on the lake, and according to the New York Times, the boat may have been hit with a “down burst” of exceptionally high winds.

Others believe that the incident was a revenge operation by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. However, witnesses did not mention any explosions or the sound of gunfire at the time of the incident, and this theory appears to have no basis.

A number of Italian outlets have speculated that the trip was an information-sharing operation between Israel and Italy. Questions have also been asked as to whether the spies were observing Russian magnates known for their investment activity near the lake.

No credible information is available on Erez Shimoni’s intelligence activities. The caution of the Israeli government also suggests that he may have been conducting important operations during his active period, which he may have continued after his official departure from Mossad, or that he may have been in possession of serious state secrets.

The partnership between the two countries’ intelligence services is nothing new, as Italy played an active role in the Western alliance against Afghanistan and Iraq, and even in the fight against the Islamic State.

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