Haredi man who tried to spy for Iran gets 4.5 years in plea deal

Natorei Karta member Yitzhak Bergil admits he offered Iranian embassy in Berlin intelligence on Israel.

January 28, 2014 13:07
2 minute read.

escorted by Israeli prison guards in the Jerusalem District Court. (photo credit: REUTERS)


Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analysis from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief


A man from the virulently anti-Zionist haredi Natorei Karta sect who was charged with attempting to pass sensitive information on Israel to Iran will serve four-and-a-half years in prison, according to the terms of a plea bargain approved Tuesday by the Jerusalem District Court.

Yitzhak Bergil, 47, who was arrested by the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and Israel Police in July 2013, reached the deal with prosecutors after confessing. A month after his arrest, the Jerusalem District Attorney’s Office filed an indictment with the court on charges of intent to commit treason and contacting a foreign agent.

The Jerusalem Post has learned that the charges are relatively low-grade on the spectrum for spying. The sentence given to Bergil is equal to or more severe than punishments meted out for similar offenses in the past, including a mere three-year prison sentence for a man who tried to spy for Hezbollah.

According to the indictment, at an unknown date Bergil decided to make contact with the Iranian government in order to collect intelligence on Israel. To do this, he went online to check where he could approach an Iranian embassy.

On January 16, 2011, he flew to Berlin, where two days later he approached the embassy to tell the Iranians he was an Israeli and wanted to talk. He was in his usual haredi dress, including black-and-white clothing and tzitzit. He was introduced to three Iranian representatives, including a man who identified himself as Hagi Baba.

Bergil told Baba he was against the Jewish state, wanted it to be taken over by non-Jews, was ready to provide intelligence and was even ready to “kill a Zionist” if necessary. He baited the Iranians, asking them why they failed to prevent sabotage and attacks, apparently by Israel, within the Islamic Republic.

The Iranians responded with annoyance, saying he should be embarrassed to insult them when he was seeking asylum. Bergil retorted that he was not seeking asylum, but instead wanted to spy.

He returned to Israel on January 20, but kept up his connection with the Iranians by email at Internet cafes, and via telephone calls made from public phones near his place of residence in Jerusalem. One place he checked his email account for messages from the Iranians was the Vital Hotel, at 141 Jaffa Road. Two of the public phones he used were on Strauss Street and Kanfei Nesharim Street.

The Shin Bet said that under questioning, Bergil confessed he had worked “out of a hatred for the State of Israel and in exchange for financial compensation.”

A fringe ultra-Orthodox sect established in Jerusalem in 1938, Natorei Karta (Aramaic for “Guardians of the City”) believes Israel can be reestablished only after the coming of the Messiah. It therefore rejects Zionism and opposes the existence of the state.

Members of the sect in Israel and the US are known to burn the Israeli flag and have sent representatives to attend conferences in Iran. Last year, Arabic media reported that members of the sect met with Hezbollah officials in Beirut.

Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>

Related Content

August 31, 2014
Rioting resumes throughout east Jerusalem Saturday night


Cookie Settings