Submarine Affair: Circle of Suspects Grows as Former Intel Minister's Aides Questioned

Associates of Energy Minister Steinitz investigated are his brother-in-law Gary Hakim and former adviser Aviad Shai

Gary Hakim, a businessman, Likud activist and a relative of Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz on May 26, 2010.
Ofer Vaknin

The two people who were questioned on Sunday as part of Israel's so-called submarines affair have been identified as associates of Israel's former intelligence and strategic affairs minister.  

Gary Hakim, a businessman, Likud activist and relative of Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz was questioned, as was Steinitz's former adviser Aviad Shai.

Hakim is one of the owners of Shafir Engineering, while Shai served as an adviser to Steinitz during his tenure as finance minister.

>> The Israeli Submarine Scandal: What We Know

The investigation (known as Case 3000 by the police) focuses on suspected corruption involving the deal to purchase submarines and missile ships. After the investigation, the two were released to their home under restricted conditions.

Last week, there was a second wave of arrests in the affair, which included Rami Tayeb, Steinitz' media adviser, and David Sharan, the former bureau chief of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, on suspicion of receiving bribes. Sharan also served in the past as Steinitz' bureau chief. After the arrests, Steinitz' associates said he is "shocked by the reports, about which he heard from the media."

The wave of arrests last week also included former minister and present Keren Hayesod-United Israel Appeal chairman Eliezer Sandberg, former Israel Navy commando chief Shai Brosh, media consultant Tzachi Lieber and public relations executive Natan Mor.

Sharan and Lieber were arrested, while the others were released to house arrest.

Last Thursday, Lieber claimed in court that he had transferred money from Michael Ganor, the middleman in the deal between Israel and the German company ThyssenKrupp, to David Sharan, when he was still Netanyahu's bureau chief.

At the same time last week, it was reported that Atalia Rosenbaum, former deputy head of Israel's National Security Council, was questioned in August regarding the submarine affair, on suspicion that she leaked information to Ganor from NSC meetings.

In July, Ganor signed a state's evidence agreement. The court has issued a gag order on his testimony. Ganor was arrested in the first round of arrests, along with Netanyahu's personal attorney David Shimron, and Avriel Bar-Yosef, former deputy head of the National Security Council.

The submarines affair centers around two transactions between Israel and Thyssenkrupp for the purchase of three submarines and four missile boats to protect Israel's offshore natural gas rigs, at a cost of almost 2 billion euros ($2.4 billion).