Israeli former Mossad spy mastermind dies at 87

A top former spy in Israel`s shadowy Mossad intelligence agency, who oversaw controversial assassinations abroad of top Palestinian militants, has died, local media reported on Monday.

Mike Harari, 87, died in Tel Aviv on Sunday, reports said, after an illustrious career in which he presided over several high-profile Mossad operations during the 1970s.

The most controversial of these was Operation Wrath of God -- a string of targeted assassinations, many of them in Europe, against Palestinian militants from the Black September group who killed 11 members of Israel`s 1972 Munich Olympics team.

Norwegian prosecutors indicted Harari in 1998 for the murder by suspected Mossad gunmen of a Moroccan waiter in the town of Lillehammer, who was mistaken for the Munich attack`s mastermind.

Harari also directed the rescue by Israeli commandos of hostages aboard a plane held by Palestinian gunmen at Uganda`s Entebbe airport in 1976.

He was also reported to have had close relations with Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega, facilitating arms deals between Israel and Panama.

Born in 1927 near Tel Aviv in what was then the British Mandate of Palestine, Harari served in Israeli paramilitary organisations from a young age and went on to join the Mossad.

Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon hailed Harari`s "courage and creativity," saying in a statement on Monday: "Harari`s influence on the Mossad and on generations of fighters are still felt today and will be for years to come."

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