Iranian Cleric Claims Country Hacked Netanyahu Family Phones

WARSAW, POLAND - FEBRUARY 14: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the opening session of the Ministerial to Promote a Future of Peace and Security in the Middle East on February 14, 2019 in Warsaw, Poland. The ministerial is a conference on the Middle East sponsored by the Polish and …
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DEBORAH DANAN

TEL AVIV – An Iranian ayatollah who is a close ally of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei claimed that the Islamic Republic has managed to hack the cellphones of Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu’s “family,” according to a report by Radio Farda

Ahmad Alamolhoda, custodian of the holy shrine in the Iranian city of Mashhad, may have been referring to unsubstantiated Saudi reports from last week claiming Tehran successfully hacked phones belonging to Netanyahu’s family members. Israel’s Shin Bet national security agency denied the Saudi report.

“In the past few days, Iran’s cyber-attacks have resulted in hacking the mobile telephone of a candidate in Israeli elections and access to all the information,” the report quoted Alamolhoda as saying.

Saudi-based news site Independent Arabic first published a report claiming that Netanyahu’s wife and son, Sara and Yair, had had their telephones tapped a few months ago. Besides the Shin Bet denial, the Prime Minister’s Office also rejected the report.

The Saudi report did not say what information, if any, was leaked to Iran.

The Jerusalem Post, citing Independent Arabic news, said that the alleged Netanyahu phone hack was connected to the alleged phone hacking of Blue and White Party leader and former IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz.

News that Gantz’s phone was hacked by Iran was confirmed by Israeli officials, however they said no sensitive state information was on the phone.

A Likud election campaign video released Saturday claimed that “the Iranian regime openly supports” Gantz and Lapid.

Gantz’s number two, Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid, charged Netanyahu with “spinning” the phone hack incident as a ploy to divert the public’s attention from the corruption allegations against him and criticism over his actions regarding Gaza. Netanyahu “lies when he breathes,” said Lapid.
The Likud ad campaign stated: “The Shin Bet confirmed that the PM did not know anything about the Gantz matter and senior journalists have said so as well. This is an attempt by Lapid and Gantz to distort the fact that the Iranian regime openly supports them.”

For its part, Iran’s foreign ministry flatly denied the Gantz phone hack report.

“The (Israeli) regime’s officials are long used to spreading lies,” Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi said about the Gantz phone-hacking report, according to the state news agency IRNA. “They use their propaganda tools to link any event in the world to Iran.”

Qasemi added that the allegations were part of Israel’s “psychological war” against Iran.

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