Israeli security chief warns of foreign meddling in elections

Shin Bet head Nadav Argaman attends a Knesset Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee meeting on November 6, 2018. (Hadas Parush-Flash90)

The head of Israel’s security agency warned that a foreign country “intends to intervene’’ in April’s general elections, local media reported on Wednesday.

“I cannot say at this point in favour of whom or against whom, and I know what I’m talking about,’’ the head of the Shin Bet, Nadav Argaman, was quoted as saying by the Hadashot news channel.

The broadcaster reported that Argaman made the comments at an event hosted by Friends of Tel Aviv University on Monday.

Although the remarks were made to dozens of people, the military censor put a gag order on them.

The order was partially lifted on Tuesday; however it still banned any mention in the media of which country Argaman referred to.

“Argaman said that the intervention is expected to be carried out through cyberattacks and hackers,’’ Hadashot reported.

A Shin Bet statement released on Tuesday said, in part: “The Israel Security Agency wishes to clarify that the state of Israel and the intelligence community have the tools and capabilities to locate, monitor and thwart attempts of foreign influence, if there are any.

“The Israeli defence establishment has the ability to enable democratic and free elections in the State of Israel.’’

In light of the report, Labour party lawmaker Ayelet Nahmias-Verbin submitted a request for an urgent discussion in the Knesset’s cyber subcommittee.

Leader of the left-wing Meretz party, Tamar Zandberg, said: “We demand that the security forces ensure that Russian President Vladimir Putin does not steal the elections for his friend, the dictator Bibi, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.’’

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