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Pentagon leaks: Documents claim Israel's Mossad backed protests against Netanyahu

Israel vehemently denies reports which suggest that Washington spied on its ally
Israel’s Mossad chief David Barnea (C) attends a honour guard ceremony for Israel’s incoming military chief, at the Israeli Defence Ministry in Tel Aviv, on 16 January 2023 (AFP)
Israel's Mossad chief David Barnea (C) attends an honour guard ceremony for Israel's incoming military chief, at the Israeli Defence Ministry in Tel Aviv, on 16 January 2023 (AFP)

Israel's spy body Mossad secretly encouraged people to join protests against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's proposed judicial overhaul, according to a purported leak of US intelligence documents.

The documents, dating back to "early to mid-February", state that Mossad's leadership had "advocated for Mossad officials and Israeli citizens to protest the new Israeli government's proposed judicial reforms including several explicit calls to action that decried the Israeli government".

The intelligence memo does not state who made the order to encourage Mossad employees and civilians to join the protests but notes that the intelligence came from signals intelligence - meaning the US spied on its closest ally in the region. 

These latest leaks are part of a series of US intelligence documents posted online and given to the Washington Post and other newspapers. The FBI is investigating who is behind the leak. The authenticity of the documents is thought to be generally credible, though the information they contain is not necessarily factual. 

The Israeli prime minister's office on Sunday condemned the report on behalf of Mossad and described them as "mendacious and without any foundation whatsoever". 

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"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 read. 

"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."

The disclosure of these documents comes after pro-government Israelis accused the US of secretly orchestrating the protests against Netanyahu and supporting them.

Pentagon leaks: Here's what we know about the classified documents
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Last month, Netanyahu's son Yair, claimed the US State Department was "behind the protest in Israel, with the aim of overthrowing Netanyahu, apparently in order to conclude an agreement with the Iranians".

Washington denied these claims and said that any reports that it was "propping up or supporting these protests… is completely and demonstrably false".

Israel has been rocked by weeks-long protests and strikes since January against the judicial overhaul plan, which critics say will weaken the Supreme Court and remove checks on parliament. 

Netanyahu paused the proposal last month to allow for dialogue with the opposition until late May before pressing on with the bills again. 

The plan was publicly criticised by US President Joe Biden who urged Netanyahu to "walk away from it".

His remarks prompted criticism from Netanyahu and his partners, and exposed simmering tensions between the two administrations. 

This article is available on Middle East Eye French edition.

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