Erdan Demands Shin Bet Investigation of Bankrupt Gantz Company

Interior Security Minister Gilad Erdan. (Flash90)

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan on Wednesday sent a request to the head of the Shin Bet security service, Nadav Argaman, and to the head of the National Cybersecurity Agency, Yigal Ona, asking that they open their own investigations into the Fifth Dimension (Hameimad Hachmishi) affair. Erdan said there was a “strong possibility that sensitive and top-secret information from Israel Police was distributed to individuals or groups that should not have access to it. This data can be used against Israelis.”

Police are set to open an investigation into possible illegal activities by the Fifth Dimension tech firm. The investigation will focus on the period that Blue and White head Benny Gantz was the CEO of the company. Documents revealed by Yisrael Hayom last month showed that Israel Police purchased an artificial intelligence system from Fifth Dimension. The purchase was made without a tender, ignoring strictures of the Public Security Ministry, which supervises the activities of the police, and which specifically requires contracts of NIS 50 million or more with outside agencies to be approved by the Ministry’s financial department. The police ignored that requirement and made the deal with the company, the documents show.

The documents intensify the questions that have surrounded the relationship between police and the company led by Gantz through the end of 2018, when it went bankrupt. Last March, a report by the State Comptroller focused on similar issues, with police signing contracts with the company without going through a required tender process. Under the contracts, Hameimad Hachamishi sold cybersecurity technology to police. Israel Police was Hameimad Hachamishi’s only customer. Erdan said Wednesday that it was necessary to determine what happened to the data that police shared with the company when the latter went bankrupt at the end of 2018.

Gantz in several interviews said he welcomed any investigation into the company’s activities. “I am perfectly calm,” Gantz told Reshet Bet. “There was nothing wrong with the way I managed the company. The investigation is due to political pressure on the State Attorney. I welcome any investigation, I am positive that I have nothing to hide.” In another interview with Radio 103FM, Gantz said that Binyamin Netanyahu and the Likud were trying to stir up the matter “which has been investigated already” in order to deflect attention from the prime minister’s own legal woes. “He is trying to change the agenda, which surrounds his trial. Netanyahu has a load of legal issues on his head,” Gantz said.