Spy in the sky, or hapless Mideast bird brain?

Spy in the sky, or hapless Mideast bird brain?

The captured Israeli "spy vulture." (Israel Hayom)
The captured Israeli "spy vulture." (Israel Hayom)

Look! Up in the sky! It’s a drone! It’s a plane! It’s an Ofek spy satellite!

No, it’s a bird!

A vulture, actually.

But when a vulture that had been released from a wildlife preserve in northern Israel was captured in Lebanon, the Lebanese media displayed it with all the excitement it usually reserves for captured high-tech military equipment.

Was the vulture actually an Israeli spy?

To the Lebanese, the transmitter attached to its leg, along with the tag indicating its Israeli origins, was conclusive proof.

Israelis, however, scoffed at the claim, and demanded the Lebanese let the vulture go.

“We expect them to understand that wild animals are not a threat.” said Ohad Hatzofeh, an avian ecologist with the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, “We hope the Lebanese release the vulture.”

It’s not easy for wild animals in the region when they cross the region’s hostile borders.

In 2013, an Israeli “spy eagle” was caught in Lebanon. According to one Lebanese news site at the time, local hunters who caught the eagle alerted authorities after discovering an ID ring attached to its leg with the words “Israel” and “Tel Aviv University” printed on it.

Hezbollah claimed that the eagle was one of many birds sent by Israel to spy and gather information via GPS transmitters across the Middle East. The report pointed to the “arrest of birds carrying similar devices” in Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and most recently Egypt.

The Parks Authority said the eagle was born in a breeding and re-acclimation center in southern Israel and had been released into the wild some two years earlier.

In 2012, an eagle with an Israeli tag was captured in Sudan and accused of being a Mossad spy. In 2010, an Egyptian official said that Israel-controlled sharks could be involved in a number of attacks on tourists in the Red Sea.

Larry Yudelson & JNS

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