Michael Harari, who has died aged 87, was a high-ranking intelligence officer in the Mossad and was known as "the Zionist James Bond".
In 1970, Harari was appointed head of the Mossad's special operations division, Caesarea, and established within it the Kidon ("Spear") unit that specialised in assassinations.
Two years later, Palestinian militants belonging to an organisation calling itself "Black September" killed 11 Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympic Games. Subsequently, Golda Meir's government instructed the Mossad to track down those responsible for the Munich terrorist attack and kill them one by one.
A list of targets was compiled and Harari put together his assassination team, whose squad names were letters of the Hebrew alphabet.
It consisted of 15 agents, men and women, divided into five squads: "Aleph" was comprised of two assassins; "Bet" had two guards whose task was to shadow the Alephs; "Het" had two agents in charge of logistics; "Ayin" was made of between six and eight agents whose task was to shadow targets and establish escape routes for the Aleph and Bet squads; finally, under the letter "Kuf", there were two agents specialising in communications.
The first assassination in operation, "Wrath of God", took place on October 16, 1972 in Italy. The target was Wael Zwaiter, the Palestinian Liberation Organisation's representative, who was shot 12 times on his return home from dinner; within nine months Harari's team had killed six Palestinians linked to the Munich terrorist attack, in Rome, Paris, Cyprus and Athens. Many more killings followed, mostly across Europe.
But not all went according to plan. In July 1973, Harari led his team into Lillehammer in Norway, where he believed Ali Hassan Salameh, a key figure in Black September , was living and working as a waiter. After identifying and gunning down the target it emerged that the man was an innocent Moroccan.
The Norwegians promptly arrested most of Harari's team, but Harari managed to flee to Israel, where he offered his resignation; it was rejected by Prime Minister Meir.
However, in the light of the international outrage over the mistaken killing, Meir decided to suspend "Wrath of God".
Harari was portrayed by Moshe Ivgy in Steven Spielberg's 2005 film Munich, a controversial account of the operation.
Michael 'Mike' Harari was born in Palestine, then under British Mandate, on February 18, 1927. Aged 16, he joined the Haganah, an illegal Jewish underground organisation, serving in the Palmach unit, which was its striking force. Harari was arrested several times as the British authorities attempted to dismantle the Palmach.
In 1946, he was sent to Marseille from where he helped to smuggle Jewish refugees into Palestine. He later joined the Shin Bet, Israel's security service, and, in 1954, the Mossad. He proved himself to be an imaginative, creative and a daring operator and was quickly promoted within the ranks of the organisation.
Three years after the setback in Lillehammer, Harari was able to score a major success for the Mossad, sending an agent to Entebbe to collect intelligence which played a crucial role in the Israeli government's decision to send troops to rescue Jewish hostages held captive by Palestinian militants, following the hijacking of Air France flight 139.
In 1979, Harari would claim yet another victory when, under Prime Minister Menachem Begin, Operation "Wrath of God" was resumed.
Subsequently, Harari dispatched some of his combatants to Beirut where they assassinated Ali Hassan Salameh with a car bomb.
Harari retired in 1980 after 26 years of service, but he was called back later to help Mossad in its clandestine efforts to thwart Iran's nuclear programme. In 2007, he was awarded the agency's highest decoration.
A lover of art and opera, Harari kept a framed Beretta handgun in his sitting room. He is survived by his wife, Pnina, and two children.