Report: Netanyahu ordered Shin Bet to tap IDF and Mossad chiefs’ phones

The request by Netanyahu was connected, according to the report, to the leaking of classified material.

May 31, 2018 22:51
3 minute read.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a weekly cabinet meeting, May 6th, 2018.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a weekly cabinet meeting, May 6th, 2018.. (photo credit: EMIL SALMAN/POOL)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked the head of the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) to tap the phones of then-Mossad chief Tamir Pardo and IDF chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz in 2011.

The bombshell news was revealed on Thursday night in an interview Pardo gave to the Uvda investigative news show.

According to the report, Netanyahu asked then-head of the Shin Bet Yoram Cohen to tap the phones of Pardo and Gantz, who had also, according to the report, opposed an order he gave them to prepare to strike Iran’s nuclear facilities. The request by Netanyahu was connected, according to the report, to the leaking of classified material.

“To tap [a phone] is the greatest act of mistrust that can be,” Pardo told journalist Ilana Dayan. “To put a listening device on the head of the Mossad is out of bounds.

“If I knew something like this was happening, the right thing for me to do would have been to get up and leave.”

Asked what he would have done had he received such an order from the prime minister, Pardo said: “I would have told him to go to hell.” According to the report, Cohen refused the order.

In response, the Prime Minister’s Office said: “The claim that the prime minister asked the head of the Shin Bet to bug [the phones] of the chief of the General Staff and the head of the Mossad is completely ludicrous. This is a distortion of institutional efforts that are occasionally made to protect classified information of utmost importance to Israel’s security. The decision of what measures to take is in the hands of the proper authorities.”

In the interview, Pardo revealed that he considered resigning to protest Netanyahu’s 2011 order to be ready to attack Iran at 15-days’ notice. He said that he approached the attorney-general to examine the legality of the order.

“When someone tells you, ‘Establish a countdown process,’ you realize that he is not playing games with you,” Pardo said.

According to the former Mossad chief, Israel was closer than ever to attacking Iran in 2011. This is when Netanyahu instructed Pardo and Gantz to prepare for the P15+ plan, which meant an escalation and series of real-world moves and preparations to be able to carry out an attack order on short notice.

Pardo explained that some of the moves could be noticed by other nations and players, and might even be designed to signal or pressure them into policy decisions favorable to Israel.

When asked whether he believed the attack would take place, the former head of the Mossad replied: “Such a plan is not something that you just order for practice. If this is ordered, it is done for one of two reasons: Either because you really intend for such a thing to take place, or because you want to send a signal to someone out there.”

Pardo, who had just taken up the post at the time, decided in an unusual move to examine whether the prime minister was authorized to issue a directive that could drag Israel into the war.

“I made countless inquiries about every possible course of action. I checked with former heads of Mossad, I talked to legal advisers, I consulted with anyone I could consult with to understand who was authorized to give instructions on any subject connected to starting a war,” Pardo explained.

“In the end, if I receive an order, even if it comes from the prime minister, I have to be certain that if something goes wrong and the operation fails, there will be no situation in which I committed an illegal operation.”

When asked whether he believes that an attack on Iran is like a decision to start a war, the former intelligence chief replied: “Of course.”

While Pardo had major issues with the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, he saw it as slowing the Islamic Republic’s path to a bomb in the short term.

Last month, Pardo and a range of other former top intelligence officials also questioned Netanyahu’s public presentation of the Mossad’s operation to bring Iran’s secret nuclear archives to Israel.

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