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Israel foreign fighter found dead in Ukraine

Bar Bonen, a 36-year-old who volunteered to join the civil war in Ukraine, was found with gunshots to the head in his flat in Kiev [Twitter]

An Israeli who volunteered to fight with the Ukrainian army against the country’s separatist movement has been found dead in his apartment.

Bar Bonen, a 36-year-old who volunteered to join the civil war in Ukraine, was found with gunshots to the head in his apartment in the Ukrainian capital Kiev. A 9mm handgun was also found near Bonen’s body. According to the Ukrainian police Bonen committed suicide, however the commander of the force Bonen joined cast doubt on this conclusion, insisting that his death could not be attributed to suicide, Ynet reported.

The commander of Bonen’s force, Mamuka Mamulashvili, said that “we hope that the investigation will be objective because Bar was not the kind of person to kill himself. There are many facts which are not consistent with the investigation’s version, and we hope that the truth will be brought to light”.

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The mysterious circumstances surrounding Bonen’s death will bring to mind recent revelations that Israel’s intelligence agency Mossad is frequently involved in targeted killings. In July it emerged that Mossad is the world’s leader in assassinations, having conducted more than 800 operations in the last ten years and killed more people than the agents of any other country since World War II.

Similarly, a report by French newspaper Le Monde revealed that Paris has become “a centre for the Israeli intelligence agency’s activity” and that Mossad agents based in the French capital had planned the assassination of Hamas leader Mahmoud Al-Mabhouh. Le Monde explained that on “19 January 2010, the Mossad agents were in a hotel room in the Bercy neighbourhood, Paris, not far from the French Ministry of Finance and the Authority’s institutions there.” These agents were reportedly involved in the activation of Israeli agents in other countries which then carried out the assassination of Al-Mabhouh in Dubai, UAE.

Israel has sought to prevent its citizens from volunteering as foreign fighters in conflicts abroad. In 2017, it amended its nationality act to declare that any Israeli found to be volunteering in a foreign army could be stripped of their citizenship. Israel’s security service Shin Bet estimated that several dozen Israeli nationals had travelled abroad to fight for Daesh, most of which were killed in action. Israel’s Interior Minister, Aryeh Deri, said that the amendment was intended to deter both foreign volunteers from returning and other Israelis from undertaking similar ventures. Prior to volunteering in Ukraine, Bonen is believed to have served as an officer in the Israeli army and as a detective in the Israel Police.

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Bonen is thought to have joined the Georgian Legion, a military faction fighting alongside the Ukrainian Armed Forces in Donbass, a region in eastern Ukraine. Civil war erupted in early 2014 after the eastern European country saw a series of protests and riots that culminated in the ousting of the Ukrainian president, Viktor Yanukovych, and the overthrow of his government. A few days later, Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula and incorporated it into the Russian Federation. Pro-Russian separatists also declared the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics in Donbass, citing the region’s large ethnically-Russian minority and the fact that Russian is widely spoken in the area. In July 2017 the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics declared themselves an independent country called Malorossiya, Ynet added.

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