Israeli special defence forces – concerned about what they saw as an increased Iranian presence in South America – collaborated with the Chilean government to monitor “unusual activity” within the Iranian and Palestinian communities, a newly released cable from Wikileaks has shown.
The July 28 2008 cable written by Juan Alsace, then economic and political adviser to the US ambassador, shows how Israel’s Defence Attaché revealed his unit was monitoring the Iranian Ambassador to Chile, and also a group of Palestinian immigrants to the country.
“Israel is also watching as a growing number of Muslims immigrate to Chile,” the cable says. Approximately 37 Palestinian Muslims who had arrived earlier that year under a UN-sponsored resettlement programme were also under surveillance.
Iran had re-established an ambassadorial position in Chile in early 2008. While there have never been signs of Iranian affiliation with terrorist groups in Chile, the two secret services were “screening [them] for anything they deem suspicious,” Alsace writes.
Israeli Defense Attache to Chile Yoeli Or said, according to the cable “that he works with Chile’s Investigative Police (PDI) and ‘other agencies’ sharing information and providing training when possible.”
The new Iranian ambassador Kambiz Jalai, was “unaware of any Government of Chile requests for Israel’s help in countering Iran’s influence,” the cable says.
Estimates at the number of Palestinians living in Chile range between 350-500,000, many of them 3rd generation Christians. The community is the largest body of Palestinians in any country outside the Arab world.
In late 2010, debate was sparked when Pinera’s government was fourth in a line of South American countries to officially recognise an independent Palestinian state.