Tension between Netanyahu, Shin Bet over Iran’s hacking of Gantz’s phone

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has voiced his anger several times as Nadav Argaman, head of Shin Bet, concealed information about Iran’s hacking of Defence Minister Benny Gantz’s mobile phone, Israeli newspaper Haaretz revealed on Friday.

Netanyahu was angry with Argaman because the latter had not briefed him nor told the public about the hacking.

Haaretz reported Netanyahu furiously asserting in a closed conversation that: “He [Argaman] is safeguarding Gantz.”

According to Haaretz, Netanyahu had the impression that Argaman concealed the information about him, not in favour of the State of Israel, but in an attempt to topple him. The head of Shin Bet was aware of this impression, however, vehemently rejected it.

When he found out about the hacking, Gantz noted that he was not subject to blackmail as his telephone did not include security material. “The telephone is not the story,” he stated.

READ: Gantz’s phone hacked by ‘Russia’ ahead of Israel election

In his election campaign, Netanyahu expressed: “It is untenable for a prime minister of Israel to be vulnerable to blackmail by Iran… It is untenable for a situation to exist in which someone will pressure him.”

Throughout the election campaign, Haaretz revealed that Netanyahu and his confidants sought to disseminate in the media the sensitive personal content that had supposedly been leaked.

According to Haaretz, people close to Gantz reported that he was very concerned about the possibility of personal content on his phone being leaked. “That was the story that stressed him [Gantz] in all the election campaigns,” a political source close to Gantz told Haaretz.