Some in Israel accused foreign actors of facilitating the massive demonstrations against judicial reform in a bid to overthrow the Netanyahu government.
But leaked Pentagon documents suggest the alleged coup attempt is homegrown, and that Israel’s Mossad spy agency is to blame.
Senior Israeli officials, including from the Mossad and the Prime Minister’s Office, were quick to dismiss the assessment as completely false, but it is making waves in the Hebrew media nonetheless.
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The leaked documents, which appeared on social media sites in recent days, relate primarily to Russia and the war in Ukraine, and demonstrate just how deeply US intelligence has penetrated the Russian defense establishment.
But they also reveal that Washington continues to spy on close allies, including the UK, South Korea and Israel.
A CIA assessment included in the documents suggests that the anti-government demonstrations plaguing Israel for the past several months were initially encouraged by the Mossad, Israel’s foreign intelligence agency.
According to the assessment contained in the documents, Mossad officials “encouraged [colleagues] and Israeli citizens to protest against judicial reform in Israel, among other things by several explicit calls for action against the Israeli government.” A Washington Post report on the leak described the situation as an “an alleged revolt by Israel’s top spy service against the judicial overhaul proposed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.”
Natan Sachs, an Israeli scholar and director of the Brookings Institution Center for Middle East Policy, told the Post that “if accurate, this is dramatic change in procedure by Mossad’s leadership and puts Israel in unprecedented territory. …If they were organizing against Netanyahu’s reforms in their official capacity, then it’s a true scandal. That’s a line the Mossad is not supposed to cross, and you could expect repercussions.”
Sachs later clarified on Twitter that Israel’s defense establishment is “simply not on the coup-like business and not homogeneous enough to do it anyway,” so if the documents are genuine and the CIA assessment is correct, then this is a sign of “crazy times in Israel.”
Civ-Mil relations in Israel are more US than Turkey.. >>
As I told Washington Post: IF (big if!) what was heard was accurate and interpreted correctly, it would have crossed a red line, a sign of the crazy times in Israel. https://t.co/r7PM7Nf1ud
— Natan Sachs (@natansachs) April 9, 2023
Israeli media had earlier reported that Mossad chief David Barnea, in consultation with legal advisors, had given permission for Mossad employees to join the anti-government demonstrations, so long as they did not publicly identify themselves as Mossad officials. According to Barnea, this was to allow employees the right to express their personal views, and not an organized effort by the Mossad.
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