Campaign has ended. This book was not selected for publication.
Back to top

First pages

Chapter one

With his arms and legs secured to a metal chair, he was at the mercy of his captors and they were not in a benign mood.

A soldier on either side of him dressed in army fatigues, down a flight of stairs, dragged down a long narrow tunnel.

Into a corridor painted green with low iron doors on either side. Solid bolts securing them shut.

Pushed through one of them, he fell onto the stone floor and got a glimpse of his surroundings. A chain with an iron hook dangled from the ceiling. Chains bolted into the stone walls with cuffs on the end of them.

Mossad had trained him for this, but his mind knew it would end. This was the real thing. How would it end?

A cuff around the head for good measure, a boot in his midriff and they left him to contemplate his fate. The iron door slammed shut, the bolt shot home.

Fucking Syrians.

He lost track of time until they came bound his hands with cable ties and marched him into a torture room.

Khara.Softening up time. He looked at a box on the floor, too small for a man to lie down. They bound his feet with cable ties. No-one spoke a word to him.

An ape dressed in a Syrian army uniform stood by switching a whip against his boots. He nodded.

A hood pulled over his head. Stay calm, don’t panic. You’ve been through this a dozen times during training. Sure but I knew I would survive that. I’m not so sure of this. Not after Hezbollah and Ba’at City.

 You knew the risks and were determined to come. So focus. The air will be stale but you will be able to breathe. The hood dangled loosely around his neck so his mind retreated to the sidelines, muttering warnings, ever watchful.

One of the soldiers threw a hard-boiled egg inside the box.

Do your worst your bastards.

The lid slammed down and bolted and he braced himself.

Here we go. His stomach lurched as they hauled the box aloft, swaying and tilting so he became disoriented.

The egg rolled to the bottom of the box where it sat out of reach, taunting him.

With all his training he was surprised at his mind losing its grip but he guessed it was a natural reaction after his treatment at the hands of Hezbollah. Shut up. Get a grip. Use the escape technique. It worked in Ba’at. Only while they were dishing out the beatings. It all turned to custard in a hurry. Ah shut up! There’s a smorgasbord of torture here. Shut up. He began the descent into Theta state, out of fear’s reach.

They will come.

They did indeed the next day, but not the ones he wanted.

The box was lowered, someone reached in and removed the hood, held up a bottle of water and sprayed his face. He opened his mouth and let the liquid quench his parched mouth, swallowing as much as he could.

This lot dressed in Syrian military uniforms and didn’t bother to hide their faces.

Not a good sign, don’t think I’m going to get out of this one alive.

Bas.” The bottle disappeared.

Impossible to wriggle out of the zip ties cutting into his wrists and ankles. Spasms rocked his body. Hunger gnawed at him. He was short, wiry and lean. No extra fat stored for his body to live on but it tried and his stomach cramped time and again.

The beating began, fists pummeled, boots thudded against him, batons thwacked. He stopped trying to hold back the grunts and gasps.

The officer walked in and the questions began. “We know who you are. Why did you return to Ba’at? What information did you send back to Israel? You want to live Himar? Then tell us everything.”

After two hours of this the officer grew tired. It was no fun beating on an unconscious body. He nodded to his henchmen who threw water on his face then shoved him into a small triangular cage bolted to the stone wall. Obliged to crouch as they tied his hands to the bars on the top of the cage, they slammed and bolted the door.

His legs cramped. There was no room to relieve the pressure. It would get worse. Gritting his teeth he repeated his mantra. They will come, wondering whether rescue from his present plight was possible. The world knew the Israelis brought back their own, dead or alive. Could they get him out of Saydnaya Prison? The odds not good. Would he still be alive? They will come.

Had he erred coming back to Syria after the last episode? Apparently. Gavalt, they had been bastards. Could he survive the gamut of Syria’s softening up specialties?

They listening to his groans and cries as they spied on him. ‘Don’t be stoic,’ the Institute trainers taught. ‘Let the pain and tension out.’

When they hauled him out he was in agony. Muscles cramped, ligaments, tendons, and tissues stretched to their limit and he could not stop his cries of pain.

His captors sprayed his face with water so he opened his mouth to catch what liquid he could.

Legs dangling uselessly he was dragged upstairs.

“So Himar, you have been trained to go hungry and survive in small spaces.” Ari felt like spitting in his face but kept himself in check.

The hawk like features of the officer distorted with hatred. “Now it’s time for you to talk. What information did you send back to Israel? Where is the rest of your team? What are you after?”

Their agents would die before they betrayed The Institute.

The officer nodded.

Gavalt. This would hurt. Ari tensed as pliers were lifted off the table and held in front of his face. As they pulled out the index finger nail, the pain shot through his hand and up his arm. It was all very well being a tough Katsa, but it only encouraged them to start on the other fingers. As his hand was still smarting from the first extraction, his damaged nerves reacted and his whole body quivered.

Delighted to see a reaction the officer kept up his questioning. Despite the blood dripping on to the floor from his damaged fingers, Ari remained silent, retreating deeply inside himself.

His torturer became enraged and demanded. “Throw water over him, keep him awake.”

By the time all the nails on his right hand had been pulled out he was a shell of himself.

“Make him scream,” the officer demanded.

So they began on the left hand.

He bellowed. Once they reached his little finger, his mind gave up the struggle.

So they threw water over him.

Raising his head he spluttered and looked through bleary eyes. A deep painful throbbing wracked him from head to do. A groan escaped his lips.

The officer sneered. “Not so strong now eh Himar?”

Ari ignored him, which earned him a kick in the balls and his captors let him drop to the rough floor.

When he could breathe again the questioning continued. “What were you looking for in Syria?”

Silence.

“Put him back into the cage.”

Had it been weeks or days? He had no way of telling

At the sound of the iron bolt rasping he lifted his head. More water sprayed his face and neck. They reached through the bars and put the bottle to his lips letting him gulp the liquid down until he choked.

At the sight of a piece of bread, he eyed it warily. Would they snatch it away the moment he reached for it or was this going to be a Pavlov’s dog exercise? Reward him for information?

“Eat.”

They didn’t want him dead just yet. Would they use him as a bargaining chip for one of their own imprisoned in Israel? Or did they just get a kick out of torturing others?

As he tried to curl his hand to hold the morsel his nail beds screamed in agony and he stifled a cry. He didn’t want to drop the food, knowing he wouldn’t get any more.

By leaning forward he could take ragged bites, although it was disgusting. Tasted like sawdust. He made himself eat. I need the sustenance.

“Are you ready to talk yet Himar? The sooner you do, the sooner this stops.” A goon in a uniform pressed his face so close to Ari smelled his fetid breath.

When he remained silent, his tormentor nodded. Two men sat him on a chair. They took turns in beating him around the face with their fists. Each time he fell off the chair, they put him back and started in on him again.

“Why did you return to Syria? What did you want? What did you find out? What did you send back to Israel?” Over and over again like a mantra.

Both eyes closed, blood pouring down his face and dribbling from his swollen mouth. Two teeth were dangling by a thread so they used the pliers to pull them out.

When he regained consciousness he was alone, his arms chained to the wall, his feet to the floor. The door opened.

“Eat.” A jailer spoon fed him a rancid broth with stale bread.

Disgusting, but get it down.

“Are you ready to cooperate?” His nemesis had returned.

When he remained silent the officer persisted. “It doesn’t have to be like this. You could be cleaned up, eating a good meal and drinking coffee. Sleeping on a bunk.”

It was a tempting offer but one he was doomed to refuse.

Two minions pulled him out of the box after unchaining him. They dragged him over to chains hanging down from the ceiling. He was lifted and cuffs clamped around his wrists. As his arms took the weight of his body, he screamed out loud as his shoulders damn near dislocated.

They kicked his legs apart and placed chains around his ankles so he was standing spread-eagled. Every muscle in his body cramped and screamed in protest at the smallest movement.

Then they started on his kidneys. No bones broken – yet.

The beating stopped as suddenly as it had begun.

“Who are you? Tell me what I want to know and this will stop.”

Ari came from strong stock. Jews who had survived the pogroms of Eastern Europe for centuries and the purge of World War II. After their involuntary stay in Auschwitz his grandparents had decided that was enough and made their way to Israel. His grandfather fought with the Zionists for a land to call their own, and nothing got in their way.

Ari was born on a Kibbutz in Upper Galilee and found his place in the world at The Institute after his mandatory military service.

Would this episode change his mind? Not if he could help it. But they needed to hurry.

The door clanged shut again and he let his bruised and aching body slump.

His tormentors left him hanging for two days, although they brought fed him the slop and bread. Normally a lean mean fighting machine he became skeletal.

On the third day they came for him again. Three men took hold of him. They lay him down on the box with his head hanging over one end, put a cloth over his face and poured water over it.

Gavalt! Waterboarding. Have to tough it out.

Spluttering and choking, unable to catch a breath, he struggled against the hands that held him in place while the water continued to run over his face. It found its way down his nostrils, running down the back of his throat as he tried to gasp for air against the constant flow. His mind panicked as he began to drown. Dimly he heard a curt command and the flow of water stopped. Choking and gasping, his body began to relax as sweet air found its way into his lungs.

“Marrat 'ukhraa.”

Khara. The flow of water began again. He struggled to escape to no avail His chest heaved with the effort to find the life giving air. More water, more choking and gasping, more heaving for air. Stopping, choking, gasping, and heaving. Lungs on fire.

Another flow of water, his body panic stricken. His mind just under control.

Thank God his training with the Special Operations Unit had been torturous. Without it he would never have been able to stand this treatment.

Choking, gasping, heaving. Lights flashing before his eyes.

Kafiyy.” Rough hands hauled him upright at the command as he choked, gasped, heaved. His heart was pounding. He couldn’t take much more. Not a nice way to die. Where were they?

“So you killed Hassan al-Hawdi and thought you would return to Ba’atagain. In'al Abouk, you Israelis are insane.”

“Miz-day-en,” hewhispered, wondering if the Syrian understood the Hebrew insult.

He did. The response was swift. Down once more, the water flowing, his body panicking. Lungs and throat on fire. Losing his grip on his mind.

“Kafiyy.”

Enough? Once more and they would lose him. Then they have failed. He had told them nothing.

Gasping for air as the water cleared from his eyes he looked into those of his tormentor. No mercy there.

“What Division are you from? Who is your Unit Commander? What is your mission? What you have found out?”

Could his mind hang on? His eyes closed and head slumped forward, he lost consciousness.

When he came to he hung from the ceiling by his hands. His feet did not touch the floor so the strain was horrendous. Life flickered. What now? They will come for me.

“Aakhdhah 'iilaa ghurfa.”

As they unchained him he thought his body would break in two. They forced him upright, catching him before he collapsed and dragged him out of the cell along a rough floor to the torture room.

“Last chance.”

He remained limp and silent, ready for whatever came next.

Again no-one spoke to him. Men of few words these Syrian torturers. Fine with him.

‘Join the invisible to make the impossible’ The Institute’s motto. It wouldn’t be easy but they would come for him.

When that didn’t break him they upped the ante. Placed electrodes on his chest, feet and genitals. His weakened body tensed. This is going to hurt. Badly. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. He held on to that thought as they electrocuted him several times a day. Screaming like a wounded animal until his throat was so hoarse it longer made sound.

“Tough Ya Ibn el SharmoutaT aren’t you? Who are you? What division of The Institute are you from? Who is your Unit Commander? What is your mission? What have you found out?”

Damn. He wasn’t as tough as he had been after Hezbollah had gone to work on him. He shouldn’t have been back in the field. Had they screwed with his mind so much he had a death wish?

Rough hands slapped him around the face to bring him back to them. His torturer’s face in his.

His breath is disgusting, needs a trip to the dentist. Probably not left in Damascus.

“Let’s see how you stand up to the German Chair.”

Dread overcame him. My brothers have left it too late.

With a nod to his minions the torturer watched as they strapped Ari to a chair whose back was adjusted to inflict extreme pain on the spine. Another nod and they pulled the back to the ground.

Excruciating pain became his existence. A never ending fire through his neck, back and spine.

The hapless man felt muscles and tendons stretch. He heard them tear.

Zoobie. Too much of this and his spine would break. Not to mention his neck.

That was the last thing he remembered.

Chapter two

“I need you here in Tel Aviv now,” the voice barked in his ear.

“How long?”

“Today.”

“This will play havoc with my lectures.”

“Tough, get here.”

David sighed and disconnected. His Unit Commander in the Operations Branch of The Institute, the Israeli Intelligence Agency, was of the opinion that his agents had no personal life. They belonged to him body and soul. Any other commitment was an inconvenience.

“What is it?” Lina sat up and scooted across the bed towards him.

“Avron. Wants me in Tel Aviv today.” He ran his hand through his hair.

“What about your lectures?”

“I’ll get them covered.”

“Is he always like this?” She reached across and tangled her fingers with his.

“Not without good reason.” His bos was imperious but wouldn’t blow David’s cover as a Professor of Philology at the American University in Beirut.

“What’s the time?”

He peered at the clock. “3 am.”

“Get a few hours more sleep.”

He sat up and swung his legs over the side of the bed. “Have to sort it.”

Lina put her hand on his back to stay him.

“You can’t wake your colleagues at this hour of the morning.”

He grinned and tapped his nose. “Cedric will cover for me.”

This was a colleague and close friend who was a lecturer at the same University. David had co-opted him as a Sayanim. These volunteer helpers were the backbone of The Institute, enabling the Katsas during their missions.

“Will it be okay with the Office?”

“It happens.”

“They won’t fire you?”

Not a chance, but it gave him a shot at teasing her, which he took. “If they do, I’ll have to send you out to work.” He stood and made his way towards the bathroom where he turned on the shower.

She called out. “In this condition?” Her swollen belly told it all. No incursions into war zones for Lina at the moment.

David stuck his head around the door jamb. “Then I guess we’ll just have to live off my Trust fund.” As the scion of a wealthy New York Banking family he was not strapped for cash. It allowed him to work at the American University of Beirut as a Professor of Ancient Languages and Archaeology.

Lina grimaced. “You wouldn’t like that.” He valued his independence and loved his job.

“I might not have a choice.”

She felt uneasy. Getting out of bed she made her way into the kitchen for that panacea for all ills. Switching on the espresso machine didn’t help. Something wasn’t right.

Chapter three

David’s stomach plummeted. Not Ari, his little brother. Few understood the bond of comrades-in-arms. Training together for the agency had forged a friendship that had deepened as they watched each other’s backs in the field.

“Ari’s been captured. In Syria.”

“What the hell was he doing there?” David couldn’t understand his colleague’s return to the same place the team rescued him from nine months ago. “He’s marked.”

“The Free Syrian Army are pleading for support against the regime forces and Hezbollah,” Avron avoided answering directly.

“So what?”

“They are readying for a major offensive against the rebels in the Golan.” His unit commander picked up a cutter and clipped off the wet soggy end of a cigar. Unable to break the habit of a lifetime and forbidden to smoke inside the building he contented himself with chewing on them. “Their withdrawal from the towns around the Quneitra crossing was bullshit.”

This is the only access between Israel and Syria on the craggy heights. The United Nations Peacekeeping Force patrolled it until 2015. After constant attacks and a kidnapping, they decided to withdraw. So began the fight for control.

“Hezbollah returned under the name of the Golan Regiment.” Predominantly Druze it fights under the banner of the regime’s Auxiliary National Defense Force who are loyal to Assad’s government.

The Druze farmers had lived in the area for centuries and were the ones who suffered most under the continuing conflict.

 “How did they get hold of Ari?”

“We only know he was captured in Madinat al Ba’at.”

“You let him go back there?” It was like the shockwave from an explosion hitting him in the guts. It was unthinkable. Ari back in the Governorate of Southern Syria. The team rescued him from Ba’at City. Nine months later he was still recovering from the torture and faced years of skin grafts.

“I tried to stop him.” Avron chewed faster. “He wanted revenge.”

“It’s their stronghold, crawling with Assad’s troops.” David switched his focus. “How did you find out they have him?”

“Transponder in the heel of his boot. Elad overheard the struggle before it was torn out.”

David scowled. “You want me to go back there. They will be waiting for us.”

“They have moved him already.” If he wasn’t already dead the troops moved him further inside Syria.

“To Adra again?”

“No. To Saydnaya.”

David recoiled. “Chara,” he cursed. How the hell was he going to lift Ari from the infamous military-run complex near Damascus, which Amnesty International named the worst prison in the world? “A walk in the park.” His voice was bitter. “What about Lina and the baby?”

Avron’s eyes swung away from his agent’s. Family considerations were put aside when Israel’s best interests were at stake.

“Is Elad listening on the field commander’s line, or is Ari running around with an implant in his head transmitting pictures?” A facetious remark but not far off the mark.

The team was well aware that their analyst hacked into and tracked any target through every device that is linked into cyberspace.

”It is not as clear cut as you would like it.” He leaned forward and stared down his agent. “I work with tones of grey.”

“And we are your shadows.”

Both men carried memories in their minds that returned to haunt them.

Inside David was fuming. He wasn’t taking this mission. Not with Lina carrying their first child.

“They’re building an excuse for the offensive.”

”So you sent Ari back to Ba’at?” He paced the floor.

“He insisted. Wanted revenge. You can’t blame him.”

“And you let him go?” David stopped in his tracks.

“Nobody knows Ba’at and Hezbollah as well.”

David lost it and shouted. “Not good enough. They damn near killed him last time?”

“When you are sitting in this chair you can question my decision.” Avron raised his own voice.

“That’s never going to happen,” his agent interrupted.

“The Government forces and rebels are at each other’s throats. The Free Syrian Army unit commander pleaded with us. ‘You have to attack the Syrian army and help us against this government of Kufar.” a derogatory Arabic word for unbelievers.

David disregarded the warning. “I can’t believe you let him go.”

Avron shrugged his shoulders. “I tried.”

“Not very hard. Why didn’t you lock him up?”

Avron pointed the wet cigar at his agent. “We need to stop Hezbollah. They’re in league with Assad and Iran.”

“That’s old news.” David didn’t hold back. What did he have to lose? “You should have strapped a suicide bomb on his chest and be done with it?”

The air reverberated as Avron slammed his fist on the table. “Don’t lecture me. It’s my job to keep this land safe.”

On a map of the region Israel appears as a tiny sliver of land. On a par with Lebanon. Dwarfed by the giant areas of Syria on its North Eastern border and Egypt on its south.

“So you risked Ari’s life.”

“Katsas risk their lives every time they go into the field. He’s not a virgin.”

“Fine when he was fit and well.” David’s emerald green eyes were blazing. “You heard the doctors. It took a huge toll on him. Why didn’t you send a team with him?”

“It was a one man show. In and out. Fast.”

The fight went out of David and he sat down. “I want out.”

His unit commander’s gaze bored into his heart. “Your soul no longer belongs to Israel. Why?”

“The Knesset is filled with Zionists and I don’t like their agenda.”

Privately Avron agreed but kept it to himself.

“I believe we have become the enemy because of their mind set.”

“Without them Israel wouldn’t exist.”

“Bullshit, they chose to kill the Palestinians and drive them off their land.”

“The British were behind that.”

“Why do their bidding? Jews and Palestinians lived together peacefully for centuries in Palestine.”

Avron leaned forward. “Those were the terms.”

“And we wanted the land for ourselves.”

“Damn right we did.” He stood up. “Who are you to criticize the Zionists who fought for this nation? You were born in America. You’ve no idea what life was like for the Jews of Europe.”

“No,” David shot back, “but my grandparents did.” Wealthy Jews who remained behind in their beloved Germany after sending their children to America. “They ended up in Auschwitz.”

Avron couldn’t remain seated or he would explode. The two men glared at each other. “There would have been no Israel for them to flee to without the Fighters for the Freedom of Israel.”

David’s views were different now. He believed the Palestinians should have their own State. “I don’t like where they are leading us. The killing has to stop.”

“It will never stop.” Avron was a realist.

“Then I can’t live with it any longer. My responsibility lies with Lina and our unborn child.” He would not sacrifice them for someone else’s political agenda.

Avron sighed. Deep down him agreed with his agent. His choice to remain and work in the shadows with the Director of the Institute had been right. Together they were able to block the messianic impulses of the politicians.

Personally he believed Israel’s leaders should be seriously pursuing a peace initiative with the Palestinians rather than focusing on their own political survival. Now was not time to show his hand. It would be a different matter when he retired in the not too distant future.

“Unlike you, I was not raised a Zionist. You believe that the State of Israel is incapable of wrongdoing,” his agent accused leaning forward. “There are limits.”

“I’m not a sophisticated man with the privileges of wealth like yourself,” the bos defended himself. “I’m born of peasant stock to a family in Poland that suffered centuries of pogroms. Israel was Zion.” Avron’s eyes narrowed. “Try living as David against Goliath. We were forced to protect ourselves.”

His agent realized he was not referring to the beleaguered Palestinians. He pointed at Avron. “Goliath was on your team.”

“Goliath is fickle. While he needed a foothold in the Middle East we were favoured. Protected and showered with gifts. Now he has another. We’re out in the cold.” It was important he convince David.

“So you want me to get out my slingshot and bring down Goliath’s enemy?”

Avron removed the cigar and waved it in the air. “If you can.”

The fury went out of David. “I’m tired of fighting Banksters’ wars.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Come off it Avron. All wars are Banksters’ wars. The Middle East conflagration is all about control of oil.”

With the discovery of another huge oil deposit in the Golan Heights and the natural gas deal Israel signed with Jordan, the small Nation was positioned to become a major player in the global energy market.

“I’m tired of the Western countries meddling,” he said. “Destabilizing countries and ruining people’s lives. I just want to enjoy life.”

“You’re a good Katsa.”

“I’m a better philologist.” He felt bone weary and wanted nothing more than to return to teaching ancient languages to eager students. “I no longer want to keep different factions at each other’s throats.”

“Haven’t you heard? It’s the Arab Spring.”

“And I’m the tooth fairy.”

Avron understood David’s determination to leave the unit but he had to goad him into this one last mission. “The protestors in Syria demonstrated for democracy.”

“And look what they got instead. The world’s second largest refugee crisis.”

“The Civil war suits Israel.” Wolves were at every border. “Chaos helps us expand our settlements in the Golan Heights and extend our oil recovery efforts. There’s an old saying. When your enemies are fighting each other, leave them alone.”

David resumed his pacing. “But we don’t. We aggressively attack them and take their land. Now world opinion has turned against us.”

He confronted Avron again. “Why did you send Ari into that mess?”

“Because Hezbollah and Iran are intent on establishing a new front in the Golan to eradicate Israel.” The unlit cigar got a going over. The no smoking policy drove him insane.

Recently Tel Aviv released a statement claiming it struck Syrian cannons during an airstrike in Syria’s Golan Heights after mortar fire hit an unpopulated area. Accusations were flying on both sides.

The atmosphere between the Avron and David grew fraught.

“Why didn’t you send someone else?”

“Only Ari could make it work.”

“What was so damn important you sent him to bring it back?”

“It’s classified.”

“Be nice to know what I’m risking my life for.”

“Ari.” His bos walked to the window. The greenery outside soothed him.

“I can’t sanction putting innocent people into coffins any longer.”

“Perhaps you should move to Israel. The rabbis are busy.”

David gave him a wounded look

“They made their choice. Now they live with the consequences. Jews did.”

“They did not choose war. Their lives are down the toilet. Homeless. Their cities in ruins. Their children lost to bombs and bullets.”

Avron sat down at the desk again. “You’re going soft.” He knew the seeds of discord were growing in his agent for some time.

David ignored the jibe. “Now Ari has paid a high price for oil exploration.”

A large oil deposit was found in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, with enough reserves to last Israel for decades and establish greater control over the disputed territory.

Avron was no apologist. “Every Katsa knows the risk each time he goes into enemy territory. Oil will give Israel the independence it needs.” He leaned forward and braced his elbows on the desk. “The Third Temple will not be razed to the ground.”

The small nation of Israel was viewed by Jews as the long awaited Third Temple. The Babylonians destroyed the First Temple; and the Romans the second. It was where they would wait for the Messiah.

“I wouldn’t count on that. The Zionists have set this nation on a collision course with all-out war.”

“Is that why you want to leave?” He lent forward and glowered at David. “Lost your Hootzpa?” A low blow but he felt wounded. David was like a son and one of the best agents in his stable. In his heart he had replaced his son Reuven, a Refusenik who had turned his back on his father’s ideals. Now David wanted to desert him.

“Goliath favors the establishment of a Palestinian State.” He returned to his seat. “Do you want to lose the homeland we waited two thousand years for?”

“You know better than that.”

“Then I’m begging you to help.”

“How do you know Ari has what you want? What was it? Hezbollah and Iran’s plans? How the hell was he supposed to get those? We killed al Hawdi and Abou Mazanderani to stop a new shipment of arms. Wasn’t that enough?”

“It will never be enough.”

“So what’s the answer? Both countries have the capacity for nuclear war and keep threatening each other. For God’s sake can’t you learn to live in peace?”

“The discord and distrust goes back too far.”

“Try. Sit down at the table and make it work.”

“You tell that to Netanyahu and the Zionists.”

“They don’t want peace in their time. They’re after power and the oil.”

“Then what do you propose Israel does?”

“Sit down and hammer out a peaceful solution. Neo-Zionism revolves around three pillars: the Land, the People and the Torah of Israel.”

Where the hell was his agent headed with this?

“The Torah states we are made in God’s image; man has to imitate God. And you shall walk in His ways. Just as He is merciful, so must you be merciful.”

“You, a non-orthodox Jew, are quoting the Torah to me?” His voice rose again in a bluff. He was hardly a pillar of orthodoxy. It was not the first time the two men locked horns about ideology and generally enjoyed the tussle. “We are making history.”

“Unfortunately we have not learned from our history. The Torah teaches history can be altered, can be changed by one person, one act. A people.”

“And so we have. We have taken back the land that was ours.”

“Against the principles of the Torah.”

“Then tell that the Knesset not me.”

“Don’t tempt me. In the Torah, human life reigns supreme. The instances when human life can be taken are extremely limited. They have to meet certain very exacting standards. In a society where life is taken very easily it reflects just how far humanity has strayed from its purpose.”

“Our enemies have no problem with taking Jewish lives.”

“They do not live by the Torah, the Talmud.”

“Yahweh promised us this land.”

“It’s not much use if we are all dead.”

Avron realized they were going nowhere with the discussion. “The Arabs don’t want peace either.”

“The Palestinians do.”

“So why did Arafat kill the deal made with Yitzhak Rabin?”

“I can’t answer that.”

“And so the battle continues.”

“This sectarian bloodletting in Syria is due to Saudi Arabia’s greed. They were behind the invasion into Iraq which gave rise to Daesh – ISIS. Now they are killing Yemenis. Escalating the conflict.”

“Look David, we are not going to settle the problems of the entire Middle East. I just want you to bring Ari home.”


AUTHOR Q&A

About me

Yvonne Crowe is a successful writer of provocative mystery/thriller novels including the popular Nicolina Fabiani series. When she isn't living out little princesses' fantasies and puzzling over teenage boys' take on life she creates fantasies for adults, armed with nothing more than an active imagination. Living in New Zealand, which is about as far away from the world's hubs as one can get, she loves to travel to other countries to find ideas and characters for her novels.

Q. Is there a message in your book that you want readers to grasp?
A.
The futility of the hatred and racism that fuels our never ending wars and terrorism that plague our Planet and leads to such destruction and inhumane acts against innocent victims.
Q. What draws you to this genre?
A.
It gives me scope for my vivid imagination to play out against the background of the political landscape with a variety of characters and fast moving stories.
Q. Tell us about the cover and the inspiration for it.
A.
The detainees in Saydnaya Prison in Syria, deemed the Worst Prison in the World.