Tel Aviv, July 13 - Investigators in Israeli counterintelligence have caught a foreign agent when the man unwittingly exposed himself by being the only person who used grammatically correct Hebrew, Shin Bet sources reported today.
The man, an employee at a government-owned enterprise in the defense industry, was exposed during a twice-yearly review by Shin Bet officers who determined he could not be the native Israeli and Hebrew speaker he claimed to be, since no Israelis are particular about using the correct grammatical forms in everyday conversation, and most even disregard it in more formal contexts.
A source within the agency, known by its formal acronym Shabak, told reporters on condition of anonymity that reports of a mole within the enterprise had surfaced last year, but that clear evidence of the spy's activities and identity did not begin to emerge until several months ago. Investigators gradually narrowed the field until it was clear materials were being leaked to foreign interests from a specific unit in the company.
In the guise of conducting an efficiency examination for quality purposes, the Shabak agents posed as consultants and interviewed several dozen staff and supervisors in the suspected unit. "It became pretty clear that the guy we were looking for was sitting in front of us when he started using the right verb form for the third-person plural future," recalled the agent, rolling his eyes. "I mean, even the radio announcers, who are required to speak a certain way, don't say 'telekhna' when everyone just says 'yelkhu'."
Investigators' ears further perked up when the interviewee actually used the first-person singular future prefix instead of just using the third-person form that everyone has adopted out of sheer laziness and mishearing. "He actually made sure we heard him pause between 'Ani' and 'eshmor' so we would hear that he wasn't saying 'yishmor' as everyone else would," said the agent. "That basically clinched it for us. Afterwards we conducted a more thorough background check and found a relative who works for a courier service used by one of the embassies here, and put it all together." The relative has already confessed to involvement.
"Also, the guy made sure to use masculine numbers with masculine nouns and feminine numbers with feminine nouns," added the agent, contrasting it with the general practice of using the simpler feminine form for all purposes. "It was just further proof that he didn't have genuine roots in the country and society. What idiot does that?"
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