Gantz's Party Calls for Probe Into Media Leak on Iranians Hacking General's Phone

Someone 'with access to sensitive security information and an interest in harming' party leader Benny Gantz very well may be behind the leak, Kahol Lavan claims

Benny Gantz, head of Blue and White party speaks to the media in Kibbutz Nir-Am, Israel March 15, 2019.
Amir Cohen/'Reuters

Kahol Lavan, the political alliance between Benny Gantz's Hosen L'Yisrael and Yair Lapid's Yesh Atid, asked Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit to launch a probe into the leak to Channel 12 News that Iran had hacked into party leader Benny Gantz's cellphone.

In a letter to Mendelblit sent on Saturday, the party alleged that "there are a number of indications leading to [the source] of 'the leak' from a very particular office in Jerusalem."

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Kahol Lavan was hinting that Netanyahu and his Likud party were behind the leak. 

Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit
Emil Salman

The letter from the party's lawyers said attention should be paid to the timing of the leak to reporter Amit Segal, who broke the story on Thursday. It was reasonable to assume, the letter said, that the source of the information was someone "with access to sensitive security information and an interest in trying to harm Gantz."

Segal reported that two senior officials from the Shin Bet security service informed Gantz that Iranian intelligence had hacked into his cellphone and obtained access to personal information and text messages. The Shin Bet said it was not allowed to comment on the report.

"It's inconceivable that an individual within the security service" would leak information of this nature, the letter to Mendelblit said, and it was indisputable that "the leak of an incident that could be 'security-related,' accompanied by concrete details, does serious harm to state security."

If there were in fact political motives behind the leak, it would be a "breach of trust of the most serious order," the letter states. It concludes with a request that Mendelblit order the staff of the National Cyber Directorate in the Prime Minister's Office to exercise care not to serve political interests in the run-up to the April 9 Knesset election.

The letter also asked Mendelblit to instruct Netanyahu, to whom the directorate reports, to act in accordance with the law and to refrain from "making any personal and political use of officials who report to [the prime minister] or information presented to him."

In an interview on Army Radio Sunday, Moshe Ya'alon, the former defense minister who is now a senior Kahol Lavan party official, explicitly called the leak "a transparent ploy" on Netanyahu's part. "It's a trick that unfortunately all of us fall for," Ya'alon said.

"We have Bibigate here," he said in a reference to Netanyahu's nickname, Bibi. "It's hard for me to believe that the Iranians would have an interest in Benny Gantz's phone precisely when it would [also] be in Netanyahu's interest."