Anti-Zionist Would-be Spy for Iran Gets 4.5 Years in Israeli Prison

Yitzhak Bergel, a member of the extremist Neturei Karta group, was driven by hatred for Israel.

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A Jerusalem court on Tuesday sentenced a would-be spy for Iran to four and a half years in prison. The man belonged to an anti-Zionist and anti-Israel sect.

Yitzhak Bergel, a member of the extremist Neturei Karta group, was arrested about six months ago. He admitted to the charges against him – contacting a foreign agent, intent to commit treason and attempting to aid an enemy of Israel – and was convicted as part of a plea bargain reached with the state.

He also received a  three years' suspended sentence.

According to the indictment, Bergel, 46, met with Iranian representatives at the Iranian embassy in Berlin in January 2011 and offered his services as a spy against Israel.

During his interrogation by the Shin Bet security service, Bergel said he was driven by hatred of Israel and the desire for financial reward.

Bergel, a father of eight from the ultra-Orthodox Jerusalem neighborhood of Mea She'arim, became religious 20 years ago and is affiliated with an anti-Zionist yeshiva.

Associates have said he holds extremist views against Israel, and that he was rumored to have visited Iran in the past. Dozens of people were questioned as part of the affair, including ultra-Orthodox community members and public officials.

Yitzhak Bergel in a Jerusalem courthouseCredit: Reuters