Eros is a very peaceful leisure resort on the shores of the Mediterranean in the desert area of Sudan, but this fascinating resort has also been the base for a secret mission for Israeli spies.
Based on these events, ‘Red Sea Diving Resort’ has also been recently released on Netflix but perhaps the origin story of this place is even more spectacular and shocking.
A shiny pamphlet claims’ Eros on the Pacific Ocean, a wonderful world … Diving and Desert Recreation Center in Sudan. ‘
In the pictures, there are colorful buildings in the sunlight shining on the coast. A couple is smiling while wearing diving equipment.
The world’s most transparent coastal waters are being promoted with photos of rare fish. The author of the brochure writes that millions of stars shine in the sky as the night unfolds.
Apparently, Eros Village with excellent coral reefs and an ancient sinking boat is nothing short of a dream for divers.
The pamphlets were hidden in thousands and distributed to various travel agents in Europe. Reservations were made at the offices in Khartoum and Geneva, and over time hundreds of tourists arrived.
The journey was long, but when the tourists arrived at the oasis, they would have access to top-notch facilities, the latest food, and wine. The visitors of this resort give evidence of the appreciation of the book.
Sudan’s International Tourist Corporation was also pleased. He rented the place to a group of European businessmen, and with their efforts, foreign tourists were arriving in the country first.
An Extraordinary Mission
But one thing the tourists and local authorities did not know was: Red Sea Diving Resort was a fraud. In fact, it was behind the hands of the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad.
But Mossad used it for an extraordinary mission: to evacuate thousands of Ethiopian Jews trapped in refugee camps in Sudan and take them to Israel.
For the Israelis, Sudan was a hostile country that belonged to the Arab world, and this could only be done on a confidential basis, ie no one in Sudan or Israel knew it.
The operation was so secretive that it was known only to those who were directly involved in the operation. Even the families of these agents did not know anything about it.
Who are the Ethiopian Jews?
The Jews of Ethiopia belonged to the community of Beth Israel. It is not clear where this community came from.
For centuries, it was believed that they belonged to the branch of Israel that came to Ethiopia in 950 BC with Queen Sheba and a son of the Prophet Solomon and brought with him the ‘Ark of the Covent’ ۔
The Ark of the Covenant refers to the golden ark which, according to Jewish belief, contained two stone slates on which the Ten Commandments were received by God from Moses.
According to another view, they fled the civil war in ancient Israel or came out of Jerusalem after being destroyed by a Jewish synagogue in 586 BC.
In the early 1970s, Israeli religious monks officially endorsed that the “Beth Israel” was one of the ten missing tribes of Jews whose history since the invasion of the Israeli Empire in the eighth century BC. I do not find any mention.
Ethiopian Jews adhere to the Torah and adopt the Jewish gospel-style approach, and their synagogues are similar to those of the traditional Jewish synagogue, the congregation.
But after being associated with Jews for centuries, they thought they were the only Jews in the world.
One of them, Farid Acklam, was wanted by the Ethiopian authorities in 1977. They were accused of supporting rebels in the country, and they were persuading Jews to go to Israel.
Farid, however, escaped to Sudan with non-Jewish Ethiopian refugees who had migrated to escape the food crisis and civil war.
When he left Sudan, he wrote letters to relief agencies and asked for help in moving to Israel. One of these letters came to Mossad.
At that time, Israeli Prime Minister Manahem Begun believed that Israel was an unconditional refuge for troubled Jews. Manakham Begun himself also emigrated from Nazi Europe and Beth Israel was also in the same category. He immediately asked Mossad to do the operation.
Mossad ordered one of his officers to find Fareed and manage to smuggle Ethiopian Jews from Sudan to Israel.
Israeli officials say that was a very difficult step. After finding a needle in a pile of dry grass, Farid met them in Khartoum and the two formed a team.
Farid began sending a message to his community in Ethiopia that the route to Israel was via Sudan and that they should also be there.
The offer also had the temptation to fulfill its 2700-year-old dream. By the end of 1985, about 14,000 Beth Israelis had taken this risk and embarked on a dangerous 800km journey.
About 1,500 Jewish refugees were killed, missing or abducted during the trip. Since there were no Jews in the Muslim-majority country like Sudan,
They hid their religion and blended in with the local population so that the Sudanese secret police could not catch them.
Nevertheless, they did not abandon their Jewish traditions and worship such as setting off the flames before the Sabbath or eating only meat that was slaughtered according to Jewish law.
The small-scale intelligence operation began shortly after, and under the supervision of Fareed and Dani, the work of sending people to fake documents began to be sent from Khartoum airport.
But as the number of people began to increase, it became clear that there would be another solution.
Dani says’ I was thinking about the sea. Sudan was not like Ethiopia, where Jews could not be transported by land because of civil war and mountains. If we were to use the Pacific Ocean from Sudan and get there, we could work on a large scale. ”
While searching for potential landing areas on the beaches of Sudan, Dani and another agent found a remote settlement in Eros. It was located about 70 km north of Port Sudan.
‘We saw something that was apparently a mirage. We see buildings with red tiles on their roofs. But we were in Sudan! ‘
The manager of the place told them that an Italian company operated a resort here, but it was closed for some years. He opened the doors and swung them around and showed them all over the place.
Dani says, ‘We got it right away. If we find this village, we will become the king here, then we can do anything. ‘
‘Red Sea Diving Resort’
What happened next is the subject of Netflix’s movie Red Sea Diving Resort.
The film is photographed in South Africa and Namibia, for which they established a population similar to the resort. The film depicts the operation and tourist destination of Mossad.
The lead character in this movie is Chris Evans, who plays Captain America. Their role is actually based on Dani.
The film makes it clear that it was made only by the actual events and does not reflect them. This is why the filmmakers had enough room to break the story.
In some senses, the actual events are being depicted, but in some Hollywood charisms, for example, no Jews were saved through this resort, it was just excuses or lies.
Also, unlike the movie, the Americans did not know about this operation, and the film even shows that the Americans did the airlift to the refugees (actually done by the Israeli Air Force).
Completed in 1974 by the Italian businessmen, the resort was a cluster of 15 red-roofed bungalows, with a large kitchen, a large dining room with a door opening onto the beach.
There was no infrastructure, there was no access road, but Italian traders brought in a generator and brought fresh water from Port Sudan. He continued to run it successfully for five years, then closed it another year after a dispute with the Sudanese authorities.
An agent involved in the operation, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that running this place was not an easy task unless you had the resources to back it up!
Seeing himself the director of a fake Swiss tourist company, Dani convinced Sudanese authorities that he could re-settle the resort and bring tourists back. They rented the resort for $ 2.5 million.
Dani and his team members spent the first year rebuilding it. The resort brings Israel-made smuggled equipment such as air conditioners, outboard motors, and excellent water sports equipment.
He also hired 15 local staff such as waiters, drivers, etc. A cook broke from a local hotel. The Mossad official says we paid him to double the salary. None of the staff knew the real purpose of the resort or that their white boss was Mossad’s agent.
Women were put in charge of daily operations because it was believed that this would reduce suspicion.
No staffer was allowed into the diving equipment store. It contained secret radio equipment that agents used to talk to Tel Aviv.
After taking care of the guests throughout the day, in the dark of the night, a team would gather at the Khedaryov 900 km away.
A team from the tribe Beth Israel was given the responsibility of expelling Ethiopian Jews from the campus and bringing them to the Redeemer.
Earlier, Ethiopian Jews were given 24-hour notice that they were being taken. They were not told where to take them, just thought they would take Jerusalem.
Dani says he was not given any notice later because there was a risk of leakage. “They were just quietly picked up and called.”
From there, dozens of refugees were put into trucks and taken on a two-day journey. Traveling would only happen at night, and they would stay in hiding all day long.
In the initial operation, both trucks had to pass through checkpoints, but in one case, when a guard opened fire on the truck, the route was abandoned.
When the asylum seekers were brought down into the valley, they sometimes felt that they had been taken to the holy city and would descend and kiss the land.
As they approached the resort, Israeli navy specials would come on small boats and take refugees on an Israeli ship that would take them to Israel.
Another agent, on the condition of anonymity, said: ‘There was danger all the time. “We knew that if any of us were caught, we would be hung in the middle of Khartoum.”
The operation was halted in March 1982 as Sudanese troops spotted them during the transfer. They might think that there are smugglers, which is why the soldiers started firing, but the refugees escaped.
After that, it was decided that it was too dangerous to take by sea and a new plan was made. Agents were asked to find a location for the landing of the C-130 Hercules aircraft. The asylum seekers had to be secretly airlifted from the country.
Meanwhile, the Israelis continued to run the resort, and by then the place had become quite crowded.
A former American guest said that Eros was beautiful. ‘They built beautiful cabins here, you got boats and you could dive. The underwater scenes were so charming. ‘
‘I remember that the European staff was very young and looked healthy too. At dinner, people were sitting and talking about why someone made a resort here! And the answer was that this place is so beautiful. People hoped that this place would succeed. ”
The resort’s guests also included an Egyptian Army unit, and a British Special Forces unit. In addition, foreign diplomats and Sudanese officials stationed in Khartoum did not know who their hosts actually were.
Eros made so much money that he could afford it, and Mossad was happy that Chloe wasn’t spending money on the resort.
Airlift Up To The Safe Location
On the other hand, the airlift continued. Israeli airspace experts found a British Airfield from World War II, and on May 1982 the first flight landed in the dark of night, with Israeli commandos aboard.
Dani recalls, ‘Many Ethiopians had never seen big trucks before, so they knew the commandos were flying creatures. They were afraid to get inside the ship. ‘
After doing the airlift twice, Mossad found out that Sudanese authorities were being suspected and planned to attack the aircraft. Then the team was asked to find another landing area.
They saw suitable places near Ghadariev that required less travel. But the problem was that these were not landing areas, just open desert.
One agent says, ‘There was very little light on the landing strips. There were two small individual red lights. The C130 pilots had to find them in the dark and that too after a long flight.
“In comparison, the flight to Entebbe was much easier.” Israeli pilots in Untabe performed a daring rescue operation in Uganda in 1976 that landed at the airport without an Israeli C-130 and was rescued by commandos at 100. ۔
Despite these complications, 17 secret flights were completed under the supervision of Red Diving Resort agents.
Famine struck Sudan in late 1984 and it was decided to expedite the evacuation of refugees. After US intervention and giving Sudanese President Jafar Nemiri a heavy sum, Israel convinced Sudan to let Jews leave Europe. But they allowed it only if they were to be secretly criticized by Arab countries.
Ethiopian Jews were flown to Brussels via 28 secret airlift operations on a Boeing plane borrowed from a Jewish Belgian airline and then to Israel. This operation was named Operation Mozam (Moses).
There was a media blackout in Israel in this regard, but eventually, the news came out.
The story unfolds
World News newspapers published this story on January 5, 1985, and Sudan closed flights immediately. Sudan refused to engage in the operation and denied allegations that they supported the “Ethiopian Zionist” plan.
Two months later, at the direct request of US Vice President George Bush, a last-secret airlift was allowed in which 492 Ethiopian Jews were let go by President Numeri. Although the president insisted that he be taken to Europe, he was taken straight to Israel after the plane was flown.
Meanwhile, Mossad continued to operate his resort and was kept as a secret option. Despite the undercover operation, the agents had to take care of the guests and they had to call in more people because of the rush during the Easter holidays.
The atmosphere was changing. Protests against President Nemiri began to mount in the country and on April 6, 1985, his government was overthrown.
The new government made it a priority to expel Mossad’s spies from the country, whether he was a real spy or a fictitious one. The head of the Mossad issued an order to evacuate the resort, but the agents knew better than the Easter weekend rush would be over. Then they got a chance and they told the resort staff that they were going to find better places for diving and this would take them a few days.
Another agent says, ‘We left the resort before sunrise in six or two cars. A C130 landed in a place we had never used before. We sat on it and came home. “
“When tourists get up, they find themselves alone in the desert. The local staff was there, but the whites were all gone. ”
When the C130 landed in Tel Aviv, they left the airport in the Sudanese vehicles they had left on the resort.
And after they left, the resort closed.
During the next six years and more operations, a total of 18,000 Israeli Jews were transferred to Israel.
As far as Fareed Akmal’s identity came in 1980, he had to smuggle Israel. When he passed away in 2009, thousands of Ethiopian Jews, besides the former head of Mossad, attended his funeral. He is still considered a national hero today.
Dani says, ‘He was like a brother to me. Without it, and without the courage of the Ethiopian Jews, all this could not have happened. ‘