Media Speculates: Was Belgium Shooting a 'Targeted Attack'?
The killing of two Israelis by an unknown gunman in Brussels may have been a planned assassination rather than a random act, Israel's far-left Haaretz daily said on Tuesday.
The attack, in which a gunman opened fire at the Jewish museum in the Belgian capital on Saturday, killed three people, including an Israeli couple in their 50s who reportedly had ties to an Israeli government agency.
Writing in Haaretz, defense analyst Amir Oren said that although Miriam and Emmanuel Riva had in the past worked for the government, they were bookkeepers rather than spies.
"Both were accountants who were employed separately by government bodies," he said, describing their tools as "numbers and computers, not cloaks and daggers."
"Still, it's possible that the murder in Brussels was not a hate crime or an anti-Semitic attack, but a targeted assault... a battle in a covert war, though perhaps there was a misidentification of the intended victims."
Belgian investigators on Monday said they were considering a possible terrorist link to the shooting, which also killed a French woman and left a fourth person, a Belgian national, brain dead.
The two bodies arrived in Israel overnight and were to be buried at a cemetery in Tel Aviv at 1400 GMT.
Emmanuel Riva had worked in the finance ministry as well as at an organization called Nativ which was founded in the 1950s to covertly encourage Jewish education in the Soviet Union during the Cold War, and to drive immigration to Israel. Miriam Riva worked for an unspecified "government agency."
"There, and also when she was stationed at one of the agency's missions in Europe, her post was solely administrative," the paper insisted. "She wasn't Mata Hari," it added, referring to the Dutch-born dancer, seductress and spy who was executed by a French firing squad during World War I.
Contacted by AFP, the Israeli defense ministry denied the couple had been in their employ, while the prime minister's office declined to comment on the report.