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October 17, 2013 8:20 am

Hezbollah Captures Israeli ‘Spy’ Eagle

avatar by Anav Silverman / Tazpit News Agency

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Screen Shot from Al-Manar TV of Eagle's label identification.

Headlines of birds accused of spying for Israel are making the rounds again, most recently in Lebanon. Hezbollah and Iranian-affiliated websites are reporting that an Israeli ‘spy eagle’ was caught this past weekend in Lebanon.

According to one Lebanese news site, the eagle was caught in the town of Achkout by local hunters who alerted authorities after discovering that the bird had an ID ring attached to its leg with the words “Israel” and “Tel Aviv University” printed on it.

The Hezbollah-affiliated Al-Manar TV, whose news site’s Israel section is called “Enemy Entity,” claimed that the eagle was one of many birds sent by Israel to spy across the Middle East. The report pointed to the “arrest of birds carrying similar devices” in Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and most recently in Egypt.

Another Lebanese news site, Maharat News, claimed that the ‘spying birds’ previously “sparked media uproar and political tension between those countries and Israel.”

Tel Aviv University responded with the following statement: “This morning, the media reported on an Israeli ‘spy’ that was caught by Hezbollah. The ‘spy’ is a predatory fowl that was part of…research projects conducted by Tel Aviv University on raptors.”

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Furthermore, Israel’s Nature and Parks Authority stated that the eagle was born in a breeding center in southern Israel and had been released a couple of years ago.

Ohad Hatzofeh, one of the Tel Aviv University bird researchers who identified the eagle, told Tazpit News Agency that he was “fed up” with the eagle ‘spy’ accusations.

The past year has been filled with bird spying accusations against Israel. In July, Turkish authorities detained a bird on the suspicion that it was spying for Israel. The kestrel, referred to as the “Israeli agent” by Turkish press because it had a metal ring with “Tel Avivunia Israel” on it, was placed in an X-ray machine at a university hospital and underwent a scan for bugging devices. After passing the surveillance test, the Israeli kestrel was freed.

Egypt arrested a stork in late August for spying for Israel because authorities were suspicious of a tracking device placed by scientists to record its migration patterns. Eventually the stork, called Menes, was freed, but was later eaten by local villagers.

Even Saudi Arabia apprehended a vulture in 2011, and accused the raptor of being an Israeli spy because of a GPS device with the suspicious “Tel Aviv University” label on its leg. The vulture was eventually freed.

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