Russian Hackers Breached Gantz's Phones, Report Says; Kahol Lavan Denies

Channel 12 News says investigation firm hired by Israeli party to detect leakers discovered that devices of leader and campaign heads were breached

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Benny Gantz at the Western Wall, March 2019.
Benny Gantz at the Western Wall, March 2019.Credit: Emil Salman

An investigation firm engaged by Kahol Lavan to check into leaks from members of its slate found a cyber security breach by Russian hackers who accessed information from telephones belonging to Benny Gantz and the heads of the party’s campaign, Channel 12 News reported Wednesday night.

Kahol Lavan denied the report, calling it “lies and falsehoods,” and announced that a firm that specializes in cyber security dismissed the suspicion.

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According to Channel 12, the report submitted by the business intelligence firm CGI states that in addition to Gantz’s phones, the hackers breached computers and phones belonging to campaign manager Ido Har Tov, campaign adviser Ronen Moshe and chief of staff Hod Betzer. According to Channel 12, the company report was submitted to Gantz last week, saying, “We’re talking about a powerful and unusual Russian hacking attack, of a type we have never encountered before.” The report also recommended complaining to the police, but no such complaint has been filed, according to Channel 12.

Kahol Lavan denied the report, saying: “Political sources who fear a Kahol Lavan victory in the elections tried to obtain information from the campaign’s managers.” According to the party, “Although the report pointed to a suspected attempt to extract information, it turned out to be lies and falsehoods. We contacted professionals who are cyber security experts and who are not the company that wrote the report, and no tainted device was found, and security measures for the campaign personnel have been improved.”

With regard to the suspicions of information leaks, for which the investigation firm was engaged in the first place, the report said there had been a leak to a Yisrael Hayom reporter that didn't damage the party.

In March, during the previous election campaign, the Shin Bet security service told Gantz that Iranian intelligence had breached Gantz’s cell phone and had accessed personal information and correspondence. At the time Gantz said the report of the phone hacking was media spin. “There was no security threat against me, and there was no security-related material and I’m not subject to extortion in any way,” he said.