They made their way to the control room, lugging their weapons and equipment. None of the crew even looked at them, as though they knew they were mysterious, ruthless killers. It was not their job to know why the submarine was landing them in Egypt.
“Periscope depth, Captain.”
“Up periscope,” The captain spent a long time searching all around for other vessels, until he was satisfied, “Surface.”
He looked at the four Mista’arvim, “We will have a window tomorrow from 22:00 to 03:00 local time. Identify yourselves by flashing the letter Zulu repeated every hour. If you are not ready or not able to make the rendezvous, then I am sorry, but I will take the boat out to sea. My absolute priority is to ensure the safety of my boat and crew.”
“Understood,” Dan said.
“Two of my crew are unloading the Mercury and one will take you to the shore. Good luck to you all. Y’varechecha Hashem. ”
They followed a crewman up the ladder encumbered by the weapons and kit into the sail, a mass of pipes and tubes for the radar, attack, and observation periscopes. then they clambered into the diver’s lockout compartment and even though the were on the surface, Afarin was terrified when the inner hatch closed behind them.
The outer hatch opened and a crewman stuck his head inside, “Wait here while we unload the Mercury.”
They waited in the cold compartment until the crewman came back and handed them some waterproofs to go over their clothes. Only Dan and Aisha bothered and they dreesed on the rear deck. A scramble net went down to the inflatable Mercury and with one crewman in the boat, they carefully climbed down in the darkness, watching their footing. The boat had its engine running, barely noticeable with the silenced outboard. The crewman on the deck cast off and the Mercury headed for the lights on the shore. The water seemed to be an oily blackness that contrasted with the pretty lights of the hotels and marina.
They gently ran onto the Marina White Beach and pulled off their waterproofs, putting them back in the boat, then crouched down, weapons ready. By the time they had orientated themselves, the Zodiac had gone, unheard with its silenced outboard, back out to sea.
“Good luck, Dan,” Afarin said quietly, and Dan and Aisha headed inland, circling the lagoon, while Gad and Afarin headed up the coast to one of the arms of the marina. Afarin moved off the road into a screen of scrub vegetation and Gad helped her scrape a depression in the sand and covered her with a camouflaged tarpaulin. From this position she could see the bay with the marina behind her and she set up her field glasses and got ready to spend the next twenty-four hours immobile and watching the approaches out to sea. She had a urine collection device, a camelback of water and a bag of fruit and nuts. This was her bread and butter.
Gad left her to her lonely watch and went to cover the approaches to the beach. He stole a broom and hung around the beach chalets, from where he could observe the Crystal Inn by Elamsa and the seafront.
Afarin’s gentle voice came on the radio, “All callsigns from Delta. Radio check, over.”
“OK,” said Dan.
“OK,” said Aisha.
“OK,” Gad said.
Aisha and Dan walked towards a hotel, The Crystal Inn by Elamsha, and its opulent frontage of swimming pool and sun loungers. They went inside and Dan went up to the reception desk, while Aisha stood behind him at a respectable distance.
“Good evening, sir, can I help you?” the receptionist said in English.
“Good evening. I am Mr Hassan and I apologise for being late,” Dan said in Arabic, “A reservation should have been made by my office in Bahrain for myself and my wife.”
The receptionist went onto the hotel’s booking spreadsheet on the computer, “Hassan, Hassan oh yes, I have you. A four day stay in one of our executive suits, booking made by Riffa Holdings of Manama.”
The booking had been made by an Israeli operative in Bahrain, using the real company, Riffa Holdings’ headed paper.
“I will get someone to show you your room. I’m afraid the dining room is closed. Would you like some food on a tray?”
Dan looked at Aisha who nodded demurely.
A bell boy, literally a boy, went to take Aisha’s bag.
“I can manage, thank you.”
She didn’t want the delicate equipment of the laser designator damaged and carried the bag herself. Dan’s bag contained their Tavor X95 mini assault rifles. Dan tipped the boy and they looked round the suite of rooms. About ten minutes later, their food was delivered and once again, Dan tipped the boy who brought it up.
They lay on the bed and munched away at the sandwiches, and it was getting late.
“How are we going to do this?” Aisha asked.
“Four on, four off? At least it’s comfortable.
“Poor Afarin and Dan. No sleep for them.”
“I think she rather enjoys it,” he said with a chuckle.
Aisha was surprised, as they all were, about just how much Dan had matured over the weeks, “Dan, do you mind if I ask you a question? Why were you so horrible to Afarin when she first arrived with us?”
She expected denial or obfuscation, but Dan thought about it for some moments, “Because I thought this Muslim bitch had taken ya eazizaa and had come to taunt me. I was jealous of her; I was obsessed by her. She was so self-reliant, tough, and unreachable. Everything she did she did well. The things she couldn’t she tried so hard. So, I chose to channel these emotions into dislike and disdain. This became hatred. I hated her so much, I wanted to rape her and strangle her as I came. I had painted myself into a corner and the only out was fighting her. I wanted to see her blood, to really hurt her. Stupid really because I just wanted to be her friend.”
“My God! And now?”
“I love her like a sister because she would die for us if she had to.”
Aisha sighed, “Sometimes boys can be so silly. You can take the first watch.”
Dan looked at her as she got undressed and slid into the bed. He noticed she had small breasts but an extremely svelte body, “Aisha, do you like Zelig?”
“Yeah? I like him a lot, but he’s married. Efrayim is the same. So good looking. Goodnight, Dan.”
“I think his wife is leaving him for another pilot. Night, Aisha.”
He woke her at two and they swapped. Aisha decided to let Dan sleep a little longer and woke him at seven.
“Soon be time for breakfast. Once we’ve eaten, I’ll have a prowl around the grounds, to find the best place to set up the designator.”
After breakfast, while Aisha went out, modestly dressed of course, Dan prowled around the hotel. He was fairly sure their target had taken the top floor penthouse in the wing opposite theirs. This was confirmed that from the top floor, the stairwell fire doors were locked. He peered through the glass and saw two men, obviously armed, watching the lift. He went back to their suite and waited for Aisha. When she came back, he asked, “Have you found somewhere?”
“Yes. There’s a hut that looks after the sun loungers. The side of it will be in deep shadow. What about you?”
“I think he’s in the other wing, penthouse suite.”
“I’ll go and do my poor, little lost woman routine. I just hope they don’t shoot me. When are the guests arriving?”
“Tonight, according to the intelligence reports. Not sure how many yet.”
She got dressed into expensive clothes, topped off with her Shayla and a piece of paper with a room number written on it.
“Do you need me to come with you?”
“No. Two of us going up there would be suspicious. I’ll be OK.”
Aisha went down to the foyer and took the lift for the opposite wing of the hotel. In the lift, there was tape over the button for the penthouse, but she pressed it anyway. The lift went past the top floor and the doors opened. Two men were waiting for it, both armed with sub-machine guns. Aisha looked around in confusion.
“Stand still!” one of the men told her. The other searched her, completely ignoring the decorum that they should have shown a woman.
“What are you doing here?”
She put her hand on her heart in a typical Arab greeting, “I am sorry. I have made a mistake.”
“You most certainly have,” the other man said, probably the leader of the two.
She showed him her paper, “I am looking for suite B11.”
“Who sent you?”
“My cousin. He is staying here.”
He looked at the paper, “B11 is the next floor down.”
“I am so sorry.”
“Get out and don’t tell anyone what you have seen.”
“I will sir. I am so sorry.”
When Aisha got into the lift, she realised that she was sweating. But she had seen something, and it worried her.
Afarin watched Gad come up the road to her hide. He was desultory sweeping the road clear of sand and paused where her hide was located. He lit a cigarette and smoked it inexpertly, as would a non-smoker. He spotted the well-camouflaged tarpaulin and sat down in the long grass and bushes.
“I’m bored,” he said, “Really fucking bored. And this rifle under my clothes keeps banging my leg.”
Afarin was surprised because she had never heard him swear before, “Anything happening?”
“Just a load of rich Arabs relaxing in their chalets, fucking their girlfriends stupid and drinking the finest wine. What about you?”
“That large gin palace out to the west. It shouldn’t stop us getting out or the sub from surfacing.”
“Nice if you can afford them.”
“Would you do me a favour please, Gad?” she pushed a polytene bag from under the tarpaulin.”
“Get rid of this for me. Pour the urine down a drain and put the bag in the rubbish.”
Gad looked at the bag, “It’s a bit dark. Are you drinking enough because that looks like onset dehydration to me?”
“It gets hot under this,” she told him, “And going for a wee is such a bloody pain. Think of the other two, nice and comfy in a hotel room.”
“I have been, all the time I’m pushing that damned broom. Afarin…”
There was a pause, “It’s OK, nothing really. Right, I’ll take this but not any number-twos.”
He went back towards the hotels and chalets while Afarin resumed her lonely watch. The women on the yacht had whipped their tops off and the men were drinking champaign off their bodies, while the women were taking it in turns to jump into the water.
“Not very Islamic,” she muttered to herself.
“Are you sure?”
“Yes Dan, I’m sure. I could hear kids yelling in one of the rooms and there were childrens’ toys scattered along the corridor.”
“Fuck. He’s using his family as human shields. I need to think about this. What would you do?”
Aisha shook her head, “No you don’t, Dan! You’re not laying the decision on me. You were elected as our leader because we trusted you to make difficult choices.”
“I wish I knew what Afarin would do.”
“Radio her and ask her opinion but be aware that she is not a Jew. It isn’t her homeland being constantly attacked by Hezbollah’s rockets.”
Afarin was watching the women jumping off the yacht into the sea. She gave a start as the radio crackled.
“Delta from Alpha.”
“Go ahead, Alpha.”
Dan gave a synopsis of the recce using code words, but Afarin got the gist.
“It is a dilemma, and you must weigh up the pros and cons and how it will look. We’re here now. I’m sorry but it must be your call. Delta out.”
Dan looked out of the window, “We go.”
Afarin was unhappy. She hated the idea of extra-judicial killing, especially if involved the deaths of women and children, innocent or not. But she was where she was, and this sometimes-violent life was her choice.
For the rest of the day, Dan and Aisha took turns on lookout, both of them quiet, lost in their thoughts. Perhaps they found what they were about to do unpalatable as the rest of them. Aisha looked at Dan and went to sit next to him.
“I understand Dan. It’s not easy being a leader and certain things we can’t help you with. We will respect your decision.” She kissed him on the cheek.
“I’ve never killed women and kids before. Does it make me a war criminal?”
“In the eyes of many people, the fact that Israel exists is a war crime. What would they have us do when our enemies shelter behind children and the old? Those Palestinian kids with their sling shots are usually egged on by Hamas behind the screen of youths. There’s always a TV crew that pitches up at the riots. How did they know? Who told them?”
“I’ll order us a meal in the room.”
“They will think we’re constantly at it,” Aisha said with a smile, which Dan returned sadly.
“Chance would be a fine thing.”
It was getting dark when two limousines pulled up to the hotel entrance. Armed men got out and flanked the vehicles, while two passengers in suits were hurried inside by their bodyguards.
“They’re here,” Aisha who was watching the front of the hotel said to Dan.
“Two plus four flunkies”
“All callsigns. We are green for go, repeat green for go.”
Dan picked up a long-range walkie talkie, “Green for Go.”
“I’ll go and set up the designator,” Aisha said, lugging the small holdall out of the room, “Wish me luck.”
The INS Livyathan was already at periscope depth, monitoring the radio message from the shore. In the forward torpedo room, crewmen prepared a SLCM Popeye missile, loading it into one of the 21″ tubes. At the designated time, the submarine slipped down and flooded its tanks to go nose up.
“Do I have permission to launch the weapon, Captain?”
“Firing missile, Captain.” The Popeye missile left the tube in a huge bubble of air and at the surface its solid fuel rocket fired. It climbed for the internal gyros to work up and then lost altitude until it was at three metres above the waves. The submarine slipped back down into the cold of the deep.
There was another version of the Popeye carried on Israeli subs. The Popeye Turbo SLCM is a reportedly stretched version of the Popeye Turbo developed for use as a submarine-launched cruise missile (SLCM), which was widely reported – in a US Navy-observed 2002 test in the Indian Ocean – to have hit a target 930 mies away. It is reasonable to assume that the weapon’s range has been extended to the point where it can launch against Tehran and even more Iranian cities from a relatively safe location. It can allegedly carry a 200 kiloton nuclear warhead. It is believed that the stretched Popeye Turbo is the primary strategic second strike nuclear deterrent weapon that can be fired from the 26 in secondary torpedo tubes of the submarine.
Dan sanitised the room and slipped out, heading away from the hotel towards the lagoon. There he found Gad waiting for the two of them.
“Afarin’s still in her hide. Nothing to report.
Dan looked at his watch, “21:35. Aisha knows this RV and as soon as the designator’s set up, she will join us. The sub won’t be here yet. Hopefully we can slip away while all hell’s let loose at the hotel.”
In the grounds of the hotel near the swimming pool, Aisha activated the designator. The laser sent a series of coded messages to the target, which bounced off the hotel penthouse and into the sky. She went into the cover of the hut and the sun loungers.
The Popeye missile was approaching the coast. It was a large missile at 4.8 metres long, still closing using its inertial guidance. It picked up the impulses from the designator and aimed for the penthouse frontage, climbed then dived on the target. The missile smashed through the glass at supersonic speed and its 340-kilogram blast and fragmentation warhead exploded inside the penthouse. The blast ripped through the internal walls and collapsed the floor into the next level. There were no survivors in the penthouse and five were killed in the floor below as the ceiling came down on them. Most of the blast was directed upwards, but the Hamas and Hezbollah terrorists and his family were vapourised
Aisha was deafened by the sonic boom of the missile followed by the explosion. She folded the designator’s legs, put it in the rucksack and with ringing ears, headed for the beach.
The blast wave blew dust and sand from off the palm trees and overturned sun loungers. The top part of the hotel wing was burning as guests staggered out into the darkness, many in their night clothes. The hotel staff tried to get them as far away from the hotel as possible. Aisha found Dan and Gad by the chalets, where many people had come out to see what was happening.
They went to the breakwater and waited for Afarin, who would stay on watch until the designated time for the submarine to return. She was watching the bay through night vision field glasses and saw something that made her blood run cold.
Y’varechecha Hashem – May God go with you
ya eazizaa – my darling
© Blown Periphery 2022