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Israel denies reports Mossad encouraged anti-reform protests

Leaked Pentagon documents allege that the Israeli spy agency advocated participation in the mass demonstrations against the Netanyahu government.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Mossad head David Barnea at an awards ceremony honoring Mossad operatives, April 4, 2023. Photo by Kobi Gideon/GPO.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Mossad head David Barnea at an awards ceremony honoring Mossad operatives, April 4, 2023. Photo by Kobi Gideon/GPO.

Israel is denying U.S. media reports that the Mossad encouraged its personnel to participate in the ongoing protests against the Israeli government’s judicial reform plan.

The Israeli Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement on Monday on behalf of the Mossad that the story, which was reported by The New York Times and Washington Post,is mendacious and without any foundation whatsoever. The Mossad and its senior officials did not—and do not—encourage agency personnel to join the demonstrations against the government, political demonstrations or any political activity.”

The statement continued: “The Mossad and its serving senior personnel have not engaged in the issue of the demonstrations at all and are dedicated to the value of service to the state that has guided the Mossad since its founding.”

According to the reports, leaked documents from the Pentagon show that Mossad leadership actively took sides against the government and in support of the mass demonstrations that led to Netanyahu announcing that the reform bills would be temporarily tabled.

According to a U.S. Central Intelligence Agency assessment from March 1, senior Mossad brass “advocated for Mossad officials and Israeli citizens to protest against the new Israeli Government’s proposed judicial reforms, including several explicit calls to action that decried the Israeli Government.”

The New York Times could not independently verify the assessment, and cited anonymous senior Israeli defense officials as denying the assessment’s conclusions.

An investigation was opened by the U.S. Department of Justice into the source of the trove of classified information leaked to social media in recent weeks and that surfaced on Friday. In addition to alleged revelations about Mossad, they contain intelligence information on the Ukraine war and other international issues.

Netanyahu appointed the current Mossad chief, David Barnea, to the position in May 2021, replacing Yossi Cohen.

Hebrew media reported in February that Barnea had approved a request by Mossad employees to participate in the mass demonstrations against the government’s judicial reform initiative.

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