Benny Gantz, leader of the largest center-left Israeli opposition alliance, Blue and White, has suggested that incumbent Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may have worked with the Russian government in order to hack his phone, during a recent unhinged rant.
A report emerged earlier this month that Iran had hacked Gantz’s phone and acquired all the information on it, including sensitive data. However, Iran subsequently denied responsibility for the hack. Gantz appeared to accept the Iranian denial during a leaked recent closed door meeting, bizarrely suggesting that the true culprits were private actors or even Russia operatives sent by Netanyahu.
“OK, if it’s not the enemies, who did it? The opponents. There are two possibilities – one is that they took private individuals who carry out cyber operations of various kinds,” Gantz noted. “The second possibility, which is something Bibi would do – even if I don’t think it’s very likely – is that he directed the Russians to do it ahead of the election.”
This is not the first time far-fetched allegations have been made of Russian involvement in the Israeli elections, with the leader of another opposition party, the left-wing Meretz, accusing Putin of attempting to assist Netanyahu’s re-election campaign. Shin Bet Chief Nagav Argaman has also hinted that he believes the Russian government will interfere in next month’s Israeli election.
Gantz’s other comments in the meeting, however, were even more outrageous.
“If Netanyahu had a way to hurt or kill me, he’d do it,” Gantz declared.
“Would Benjamin Netanyahu, the man I know, wish me harm? The answer is no. Would this Benjamin Netanyahu, on the eve of the election, be willing to see me hurt? Yes, unfortunately that’s what I’m saying.”
Gantz, a former head of the IDF, is the leader of a cabal of generals seeking to overthrow Netanyahu for bucking the Israeli political establishment in order to promote a nationalist-populist vision for Israel and the world.