Israeli search team leader refutes spy allegations

By David Fisher

The white van that suspected Israeli spies were in when the February 22 earthquake struck Christchurch. Photo / Simon Baker
The white van that suspected Israeli spies were in when the February 22 earthquake struck Christchurch. Photo / Simon Baker

The leader of the search team suspected of breaching the earthquake Red Zone in a spying mission for Israel says his team never entered the area - nor were they spies.

Civil engineer Moshe Zohar was one of eight search and rescue specialists flown to New Zealand by the family of one of the men killed in the February earthquake.

The motives of three Israeli survivors were examined by the Security Intelligence Service after suspicions over their behaviour in the aftermath of the quake, which killed 181 people including three Israelis.

The trio under suspicion fled New Zealand within 12 hours of the quake hitting. The speed of their departure, combined with the arrival of Zohar's search and rescue team, were among factors that sparked official suspicion.

The Southland Times last week reported that members of the search team were caught inside the restricted area by armed New Zealand police.

According to the report, they were escorted to the cordon and told not to return.

But Zohar said his team stayed at the edge of the restricted zone, frustrated and unable to help.

"Your Government didn't allow us to get in so we stayed outside," he said.

Blogger and National Party stalwart David Farrar said he spoke to Gil Ingel, who had hired the search team after learning his son, Gabi, had been caught up in the quake. It later emerged Gabi died in the quake.

- Herald on Sunday

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