After a string of botched operations and internal crises, Israel's legendary security service, Mossad, is in turmoil.
Mossad is in crisis. One of Israel's most powerful and respected institutions has been rocked by a succession of scandals and fumbles that have severely undermined its reputation, both at home and abroad. Even with the resignation in February of Mossad chief Danny Yatom the organisation has a long way to go before it will be able to knock itself back into shape.
The history of Mossad is replete with legendary operations. These include masterminding the rescue of hijacked passengers at Entebbe airport and bringing Nazi leader Adolf Eichman to justice from his refuge in Latin America. The organisation has long been admired across the world for its ability to penetrate enemy regimes and recruit sources and agents at the highest levels.
"Mossad astonished rival secret services by the breadth and depth of its intelligence gathering," reveals author Ronald Payne.
There have, unsurprisingly, been mistakes and setbacks along the way, such as the loss of Eli Cohen, a key agent in Syria, and the mistaken shooting of Moroccan waiter Ahmed Bouchiki in Norway. Bouchiki was mistaken for Ali Hassan Salameh, one of the terrorists involved in the Munich Olympics massacre.
But these have always been overshadowed by the successes and the achievements. However, three recent events have combined to severely undermine the credibility of Mossad. The first took place last autumn with the attempted assassination, in the Jordanian capital Amman, of Hamas chief Khaled Mashaal.
The trigger for the operation was the wave of suicide bombings Hamas inflicted upon Israel last summer. The bloodshed led Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to declare, "We can not go on like this...from this moment on, our way will be different."
For once, the Israeli Prime Minister's declaration was matched by activity. Insiders have revealed that the government ordered a repeat of the "dirty war" campaign, launched by Golda Meir's administration in the aftermath of the 1972 massacre of Israeli athletes at the Olympic games.
A list of potential targets was drawn up, which included Mashaal and others. It is believed the campaign began in the summer with the disappearance of Dr Ibrahim Makadma, a leading Hamas activist in Gaza. Israel refused to comment on Hamas accusations that Makadma had been kidnapped.
The next action ended in disaster with a mission commentators believe was an attempt...