A small town in northern Germany has reportedly sent an unusual bill to the Israeli government it is demanding €1,263, claiming its residents and firefighters pulled out of the mud a car with two people inside who are believed by locals to be Israeli spies.
The bill comes from the town of Quarnbek, NDR television reports. The incident itself reportedly took place in December last year, but was only revealed last weekend.
According to NDR, two armed Israelis were traveling in an old Ford Focus on the banks of Germany’s Kiel Canal.
It is one of the busiest maritime routes linking the North and Baltic seas, and a forbidden area for trespassers.
The pair got stuck in the mud several meters away from a “Passage forbidden” sign, apparently keeping an eye on the transfer of a German Type-212 diesel submarine –purchased by the Israeli Navy from the North Sea port of Kiel. Soon after, the men attracted the attention of an elderly local resident, who approached them and asked who they were.
The Israelis told her that they were scouting the area ahead of a regatta “scheduled” for the summer.
Their guise apparently did not work the narrow Kiel Canal, known for its busy traffic, would hardly be fit to host a sailing contest. The vigilant lady informed local authorities, which then called in the police.
A police report seen by NDR said: “Both immediately explained in English that they had a status of Israeli diplomats and carried weapons. Relevant [diplomatic] passports and permits [for carrying arms] have been submitted.”
The police called Quarnbek fire brigade, but the first joint attempt to push the Ford out of the mud failed – a small firefighters’ truck got stuck as well. “We then just asked a local farmer to help. He came with his tractor here and pulled the vehicle out of the mud with a rope,” firefighter Florian Molt told NDR.
The Israelis thanked the Germans and shook their hands before continuing on their way, the police report added.
Naturally, the rescue operation came at a financial cost, and that was now forwarded to the Israeli embassy in Berlin, with a request for compensation.
However, not everyone in Quarnbek is satisfied with how the strange incident ended. “Naturally, residents want to know how these two young men were allowed to travel [to Quarnbek] armed,” said Mayor Klaus Langer.
He is still awaiting a response on this matter from the Israeli authorities.