Iran Reportedly Organized Capture of Israeli Civilian to Initiate Exchange

As this publication reported on July 5th, Israeli researcher Elizabeth Tsurkov was kidnapped sometime in March 2023 and is being held by the Hezbollah Brigades. However, the circumstances on her capture have been shrouded in uncertainty. Iraqi Shia-militia media have reportedly claimed that Tsurkov was and possibly still is, an employee of Israeli intelligence. Sabereen published several social media posts from 2009 reportedly showing Tsurkov as an Israeli intelligence officer.

However, today, Asharq Al-Awsat, an Arabic newspaper quartered in London published the first claims today that the Iranian government actually orchestrated her capture in order to secure a prisoner swap. Their claim reads below:

“Sources from the Popular Mobilization Forces, National Security and members of Parliament said that the kidnapping of Tsurkov in Baghdad aims to put pressure on Israel to revive stalled negotiations to release an Iranian detainee in Tel Aviv. However, there were conflicting statements about her whereabouts, as a source close to the armed factions said that Tsurkov is with Kata’ib Hezbollah in Iraq, where she is being held at Tehran’s request, while other sources confirmed that she had been transferred to Iran.

The sources pointed to contacts between Iran and Israel through a regional party that is not Arab, while some reiterated that the talks “are taking place with Russian interference, which may result in the release of Tsurkov in the coming days, in exchange for the release of Youssef Shahabzi, who was kidnapped by Israel from inside Iran last June”

 

Israel’s Mossad spy agency announced on June 28th, 2023 that in a special operation in Iranian territory, it had caught the Iranian terrorist sent to lead a planned terror attack against Israeli targets in Cyprus.

These claims of Tsurkov’s allegiance have not been corroborated, but do establish an interesting narrative on the kidnapping and the influence of Tehran amongst Iranian militias.

 

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Ethan Alun
Ethan Alun
A United States Naval Academy and American Military University Alumni, Ethan covers flash military, intelligence, and geo-political updates.
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