Oil Firm Consultant Infiltrates Israeli Teen Climate Activists' Online Meeting

'If we’ve managed to get a state-owned company to fear for its future and monitor us, we can certainly get the EAPC agreement canceled immediately,' says activist protesting Israel's UAE pipeline deal

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Youth activists against the climate change in Tel Aviv, in August.
Youth activists against the climate change in Tel Aviv, in August.Credit: Moti Milrod
Lee Yaron
Lee Yaron

A consultant to the Europe Asia Pipeline Company infiltrated a Zoom meeting of teenage climate activists who were planning protests against the company.

Monday’s Zoom meeting was attended by some 20 activists from the group “Strike for Future Israel,” as well as representatives of other environmental organizations.

The discussion surrounded the protests they planned to stage outside the Supreme Court in Jerusalem when it hears a petition by three environmental groups demanding that it overturn EAPC’s agreement with a company from the United Arab Emirates to transport oil from the Gulf via Israel to Europe.

At some point, the teens noticed that a man they didn’t know was also participating. His camera was off, but his name appeared on the screen.

Two days later, one of the activists, 15-year-old Gili Berkovich, sent him a WhatsApp message asking why he had joined the meeting without being invited. He replied, “I advise you to be careful about the instructions you’re getting from interested parties.”

After investigating, they discovered that he works for CR Community Relations, which had been hired by EAPC. The firm also works for government agencies and other polluting companies, including Noble Energy.

According to its website, it helps its clients develop community ties and generate public interest in complex infrastructure projects.

In a WhatsApp correspondence obtained by Haaretz, the EAPC consultant wrote to activist Gili Berkovich on Wednesday, “I wanted to understand what your plans are for your future activity against EAPC and in the climate battle.”

Berkovich then asked him why he infiltrated the Zoom meeting, but instead of answering, he demanded to know whether the activists “are planning any illegal activity.”

Berkovich was furious. “Why should a representative of a state-owned company get into a conversation by protest activists under the age of 18?” she said.

A ship transporting gas in the port of Eilat, in November.Credit: Sasi Horesh

“Does he see us as such a big threat? I knew that EAPC wasn’t the cleanest, purest company in the world, but I never imagined they’d send a spy into our discussion. I assume I simply didn’t understand how low they’re willing to go to thwart any opposition to them.”

This isn't the first time the consultant has infiltrated a group discussion by protest activists. He has also joined several WhatsApp groups for activists organizing climate protests.

Another activist, 18-year-old Tal, agreed with Berkovich and added, “EAPC is intervening in every possible aspect of our lives by contributing to the climate crisis, but teens are a huge, unprecedented force in social struggles in Israel."

"If we’ve managed to get a state-owned company to fear for its future and monitor us, we can certainly get the EAPC agreement canceled immediately.”

EAPC said the claims made in this report are “ridiculous and false. Interested parties are working to undermine the company’s routine operations, which have been carried out for decades.”

No response had been received from CR as of press time.

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