10 Top Mossad Operations & the Spy Movies They Inspired From The Angel to Munich


From kidnapping Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann to the raid on Entebbe, Mossad's exploits are the backbone of many Hollywood movies but behind the blockbusters lies a world of intrigue, danger, and high-stakes espionage. Here are 10 movies that will light your fuse. 

1. The Impossible Spy (1990) based on the exploits of Israel's hero Eli Cohen

Both the movie The Impossible Spy and later the Netflix series The Spy (with Eli Cohen brilliantly portrayed by Sacha Baron Cohen) are based on the true story of an Israeli civilian recruited into Mossad to become a spy in Damascus, where he infiltrates the Syrian political establishment. The Israeli clerk went deep undercover inside Syria on a perilous, years-long mission as a double agent passing Syrian secrets to the Israeli government. The secrets Eli Cohen stole were the key to Israel's victory in the Six-Day War.


2. Operation Finale (2018) based on Mossad’s capture of Nazi Adolf Eichmann

Directed by Chris Weitz and starring Ben Kingsley, Operation Finale is based on the Mossad and Shin Bet operation to capture Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann in Argentina in the ‘60s and bring him back to stand trial in Israel. Former Mossad officer and historian Avner Avraham was a consultant on the movie and put together the touring exhibition of Mossad artifacts that shed light on a Mossad extraction operation that almost fell at the last hurdle over a mistake in a forged document. 

3. The Debt (2010) based on two Mossad operations

British-American film The Debt is set in 1965 when Mossad agent Rachel Singer (Jessica Chastain) and two comrades are on a secret mission to capture a Nazi war criminal known as the Surgeon of Birkenau. Some 30 years later the man, seemingly dead, reappears. The Debt is loosely based on the hunt for Eichmann and another Nazi war criminal, Josef Mengele, a physician and Nazi SS officer who performed deadly experiments on prisoners at the Auschwitz II (Birkenau) concentration camp.


4. Munich (2005) inspired by Operation Wrath of God

While Munich is director Steven Spielberg’s fictionalized account of the killing of 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympic Games, it is inspired by the bloody, real-life events and a Mossad Operation known as Wrath of God (aka Operation Bayonet). The operation’s aim was to assassinate individuals linked to the Munich massacre, a Palestinian group known as Black September. The operation was authorized by Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir and reportedly continued for more than 20 years. In a notorious 1973 incident known as the ‘Lillehammer affair’ in Norway, a Mossad team targeted the wrong man, a Moroccan waiter Ahmed Bouchiki as he walked home. The Canadian film Sword of Gideon (1986) is also based on Wrath of God.

5. Raid on Entebbe (1977) inspired by Operation Entebbe

In Raid on Entebbe, Brigadier General Dan Shomron (Charles Bronson) and Israeli official Yitzhak Rabin (Peter Finch) devise a plan to rescue hostages who are hijacked on an Air France flight and held by terrorists who hope to bargain with Israel for a prisoner exchange. In the real-life Operation Entebbe, Israel Defense Forces (IDF), acting on Mossad intelligence, undertook a daring counter-terrorist hostage-rescue mission at Uganda’s Entebbe Airport in 1976 that freed 105 mainly Israeli hostages held by pro‐Palestinian hijackers. The Israelis reportedly lost one soldier and three hostages while all seven militants died. The movie Operation Thunderbolt (1977) is also inspired by the events.

10 Top Mossad Operations & the Spy Movies They Inspired From The Angel to Munich

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From kidnapping Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann to the raid on Entebbe, Mossad's exploits are the backbone of many Hollywood movies but behind the blockbusters lies a world of intrigue, danger, and high-stakes espionage. Here are 10 movies that will light your fuse. 

1. The Impossible Spy (1990) based on the exploits of Israel's hero Eli Cohen

Both the movie The Impossible Spy and later the Netflix series The Spy (with Eli Cohen brilliantly portrayed by Sacha Baron Cohen) are based on the true story of an Israeli civilian recruited into Mossad to become a spy in Damascus, where he infiltrates the Syrian political establishment. The Israeli clerk went deep undercover inside Syria on a perilous, years-long mission as a double agent passing Syrian secrets to the Israeli government. The secrets Eli Cohen stole were the key to Israel's victory in the Six-Day War.


2. Operation Finale (2018) based on Mossad’s capture of Nazi Adolf Eichmann

Directed by Chris Weitz and starring Ben Kingsley, Operation Finale is based on the Mossad and Shin Bet operation to capture Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann in Argentina in the ‘60s and bring him back to stand trial in Israel. Former Mossad officer and historian Avner Avraham was a consultant on the movie and put together the touring exhibition of Mossad artifacts that shed light on a Mossad extraction operation that almost fell at the last hurdle over a mistake in a forged document. 

3. The Debt (2010) based on two Mossad operations

British-American film The Debt is set in 1965 when Mossad agent Rachel Singer (Jessica Chastain) and two comrades are on a secret mission to capture a Nazi war criminal known as the Surgeon of Birkenau. Some 30 years later the man, seemingly dead, reappears. The Debt is loosely based on the hunt for Eichmann and another Nazi war criminal, Josef Mengele, a physician and Nazi SS officer who performed deadly experiments on prisoners at the Auschwitz II (Birkenau) concentration camp.


4. Munich (2005) inspired by Operation Wrath of God

While Munich is director Steven Spielberg’s fictionalized account of the killing of 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympic Games, it is inspired by the bloody, real-life events and a Mossad Operation known as Wrath of God (aka Operation Bayonet). The operation’s aim was to assassinate individuals linked to the Munich massacre, a Palestinian group known as Black September. The operation was authorized by Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir and reportedly continued for more than 20 years. In a notorious 1973 incident known as the ‘Lillehammer affair’ in Norway, a Mossad team targeted the wrong man, a Moroccan waiter Ahmed Bouchiki as he walked home. The Canadian film Sword of Gideon (1986) is also based on Wrath of God.

5. Raid on Entebbe (1977) inspired by Operation Entebbe

In Raid on Entebbe, Brigadier General Dan Shomron (Charles Bronson) and Israeli official Yitzhak Rabin (Peter Finch) devise a plan to rescue hostages who are hijacked on an Air France flight and held by terrorists who hope to bargain with Israel for a prisoner exchange. In the real-life Operation Entebbe, Israel Defense Forces (IDF), acting on Mossad intelligence, undertook a daring counter-terrorist hostage-rescue mission at Uganda’s Entebbe Airport in 1976 that freed 105 mainly Israeli hostages held by pro‐Palestinian hijackers. The Israelis reportedly lost one soldier and three hostages while all seven militants died. The movie Operation Thunderbolt (1977) is also inspired by the events.

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6. Kidon (2013) inspired by Operation Plasma Screen

Kidon is a surprising spy action-comedy inspired by the assassination of Hamas commander Mahmoud Al-Mabhouh in Dubai in 2010 - a murder long linked to Mossad. Four assassins waited in his hotel room for al-Mabhouh’s return from a business meeting. Dubai’s police chief said he was 99 ‘if not 100’ percent certain Mossad was behind the murder. Details of the assassination - known as Operation Plasma Screen - have emerged slowly, with scraps of intelligence leaked over more than a decade.

7. The Red Sea Diving Resort (2019) inspired by Mossad Operations Brothers &Moses

As incredible as Chris Evans’ movie The Red Sea Diving Resort may seem, it is based on the real-life Mossad Operation Brothers and daring Red Sea extraction operation in Sudan, northeast Africa in the 1980s. Mossad rescued thousands of Ethiopian Jews who’d fled into Sudan to avoid war. Sudan was an Arab-dominated country that was very hostile to Jews, however - particularly foreign agents. Former Mossad officer Gad Shimron risked being arrested, beaten, or shot and he shared his incredible experience with True Spies in the podcast Operation Brothers.


8. The Patriots (1994) loosely based on Operation Opera

French director Eric Rochant’s movie is about a young French Jew recruited by Mossad at the age of 18. Ariel Brenner leaves Paris and his family to live in Israel but his first mission involves returning to France to steal atomic secrets. The movie and its missions are loosely based on Operation Opera - aka Operation Babylon - when Israel destroyed the Osirak nuclear reactor in Iraq in 1981, as well as the story of former Jewish-American spy Jonathan Pollard jailed for selling Israel thousands of documents on US spying mainly in Arab countries.

The Angel Mossad movie

9. The Angel (2018) inspired by Operation Tarnegol

Netflix’s The Angel is a fictional account of Ashraf Marwan's life, a high-ranking Egyptian official who became a double agent to help achieve peace with Israel. It is inspired by the non-fiction The Angel: The Egyptian Spy Who Saved Israel about the life and death of  Marwan, son-in-law of Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser, who spied for the Mossad under the code name ‘The Angel’. He alerts Mossad in advance of the joint Egyptian-Syrian attack on Yom Kippur, saving Israel from defeat. Marwan eluded Egypt’s secret services for many years, but in 2007, his body was found in the garden of his London apartment. Police suspect murder.

10. Sabena Hijacking - My Version (2015), a docudrama based on the Sabena Airline hijacking

Twenty minutes into its flight from Vienna to Tel Aviv on 8 May 1972, a Sabena Boeing 707 was hijacked and then a team of commandos - including future PM Binyamin Netanyahu - stormed a plane at a Tel Aviv airport to rescue it from Black September hijackers. Surviving hijacker Theresa Halsa and director Nati Dinnar look back at the extraordinary events in this docu-drama that explores how Halsa and her accomplices held 100 passengers and crew at gunpoint. Black September became infamous weeks after the hijacking in connection with the murders of 11 of Israel’s athletes in Munich during the summer Olympics weeks later.

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The Little Drummer Girl (1984) inspired by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

The Little Drummer Girl with Diane Keaton and the series starring Florence Pugh are based on John le Carré’s 1983 spy novel of the same name. The plot revolves around a pro-Palestinian American actress recruited to impersonate an Israeli agent who gets caught up in the world of terrorists. While the storyline is fictitious, the setting is based on the author’s first exposure to Israel, a visit he described to the Jewish World Review as rocking him 'to his boots'. Le Carré met with many people on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict including PLO leader Yasser Arafat, who reportedly held the author’s hand to his chest so he could feel “the Palestinian heart”.

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