Report: Gantz Demands Probe to See if Mossad Leaked News of Phone Hack

Kahol Lavan at first argued Netanyahu, who now blasts Gantz for 'dragging magnificent organization that protects Israeli security into politics,' was behind media reports

File photo: Benny Gantz pauses during a press conference, Tel Aviv, March 27, 2019.
Tomer Appelbaum

Kahol Lavan co-chairman Benny Gantz has asked the Shin Bet security service to investigate whether the Mossad was responsible for leaking to the media the news that his telephone had been hacked, Channel 12 News reported Sunday.

Neither Gantz nor the Shin Bet would respond to the report.

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Kahol Lavan had at first claimed that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is ultimately responsible for the Shin Bet, the Mossad, and the National Cyber Directorate, was behind the report.

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In a letter the party sent to Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit last month, it said, “There are a number of indications leading to [the source] of 'the leak' from a very particular office in Jerusalem.” Kahol Lavan also argued that it was reasonable to assume that the source of the leak was, “A person with access to sensitive security information and an interest in trying to harm Gantz.” 

In a recording broadcast on Channel 13 News, Gantz is heard saying, “There’s a possibility that would be fitting of Bibi, although I do not think it likely, that he is using the Russians to intervene in the elections.”

Speaking at a joint press conference with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, Netanyahu responded to the report about Gantz’s request that the Shin Bet investigate, saying,“They [Kahol Lavan] are trying to drag the Mossad, that magnificent organization that protects Israeli security, into the political discourse. That mustn’t be done, and I don’t plan to let it pass. The leaks about Gantz came from the headquarters of [Yesh Atid Chairman Yair] Lapid and Gantz, so I am calling on them to show responsibility, be statesmanlike, and leave the Mossad and the Shin Bet out of politics. We have enough things to fight about.”

Kahol Lavan responded, “Bibi Netanyahu, who leaks secret information day after day in an attempt to defend himself in the submarine affair, and who releases information from security cabinet discussions on a regular basis in order to undermine Benny Gantz, is the last person who can speak out against leaks. To start with, Netanyahu should publicly commit to stop spreading fake news and slander about Benny Gantz just because he’s hysterical that he’s about to lose the election.”

Two weeks ago, Channel 12 News reported that senior Shin Bet officials had warned Gantz that his cell phone had been hacked by Iranian intelligence, who had taken personal details and private messages from it. Iranian officials have denied the reports.

Gantz repeatedly declared that the hacked phone contained no security information or anything that could make him vulnerable to blackmail.

Likud spokesmen repeatedly referred to the report, with Netanyahu himself needling Gantz by saying, “If he couldn’t protect his own phone, how will he protect our country?”