A double agent and his long-overlooked chief handler together pulled off one of the most remarkable deceptions in Israeli intelligence history.
The crowning achievement of Operation Yated was the transfer of false information to Egypt in 1967, on the eve of the Six-Day War. Bitton told the Egyptians that according to the war plan he had obtained from his sources, Israel would begin with ground operations. That was deception of the highest level. It begs comparison with “Operation Mincemeat,” the brilliant deception carried out by British intelligence during World War II regarding the site of the Allied landing during the 1944 invasion of Europe.
Bitton’s misleading information is one of the reasons the Egyptians were so laid back before the war and left their planes out in the open on their airport runways. Israel’s Air Force had no difficulty destroying them within three hours of the outbreak of the war, thereby effectively deciding the outcome of the campaign. “He spared us a great deal of blood, and using him was equal to the strength of a division,” said Avraham Ahituv, the head of the Arab department of the Shin Bet at the time, who was eventually, in the 1980s, appointed to head the organization.