Iraqi pilot defected to Israel 45 years ago

In cooperation with the Mossad, Cpt. Munir Redfa left his home in Iraq and escaped to Israel on a MiG-21 aircraft

Date: 17/08/2011, 11:31 AM     Author: IAF Website

Exactly 45 years ago Cpt. Munir Redfa, an Iraqi pilot, defected to Israel with the successful Mossad operation - Operation Diamond in 1966. He arrived in Israel on his MiG-21 aircraft after four years of cooperation with Mossad agents and after making the decision to leave Iraq with his family.

"Our goal was to learn about our enemy, understand our threats and acquire a MiG-21 aircraft," explained Col. Daniel Shapira Chief IAF Test Pilot at the time. Immediately after receiving the plane, Col. Shapira was required to examine it, learn about it and use it in training as soon as possible.

"While I was learning from Cpt. Redfa, we've become true friends," said Col. Shapira. "He was an incredible person: persistent, intelligent and determined. He never for a second regretted his decision to come here."

Upon leaving Iraqi territory, Cpt. Redfa was confronted by Iraqi planes who attempted an attack to no avail. "He crossed the designate point on the Dead Sea and successfully reached Hatzor where he safely landed with his family," explained Col. Shapira.

"Cpt. Redfa told me that his main motive for leaving Iraq was that he feared for his life and the lives of his family while living there," said Col. Shapira.

Other than Cpt. Munir Redfa, two other pilots defected to Israel. In January 1964 Cpt. Mahmud Abbas Halimi of the Egyptian air force, followed by Cpt. Radfa two years later. In 1989, Maj. Bassam Adal a Syrian pilot arrived in Israel as well and was granted an alternative identity.