During Wednesday’s Knesset session, Intelligence Minister Eli Cohen (Likud) addressed a parliamentary question submitted by MK Ariel Kallner (Likud) regarding an announcement by Facebook that it has taken down several fake accounts based in Iran that had voiced support for protests against Prime Minister MK Binyamin Netanyahu.
“I confirm that Iran is conducting activity in Israel that is meant to influence public opinion in Israel, and this [information] comes, of course, from intelligence sources, who say the things are known and are being clarified,” Cohen said.
“Iran is investing resources in propaganda and subversion that target the Israeli audience. Due to the sensitivity of the material, I will not be able to address it here in full.
“Beyond the activity in the social networks arena, the efforts of the Iranian intelligence system are focusing on finding and recruiting Arab Israelis or Palestinians for intelligence or terror. The intelligence community, mainly the Shin Bet [Israel Security Agency], is working to thwart terror, subversion and Iranian influence across the Middle East and, of course, in Israel,” Cohen said, adding that while he cannot get into specifics, “the Shin Bet has led this past year the thwarting of those Iranian attempts also in the field of social networks and also with regard to the recruitment of Arab Israeli agents in Israel, which is meant mainly for the purpose of gathering intelligence. [Iran] even tried to recruit [Arab Israelis] for carrying out hostile destructive activity here in the State of Israel.”
Iran, Cohen said, has been using social networks to disseminate content in Hebrew and Arabic, “with a focus on news events in Israel, including images from the black flags protests and criticism against the Prime Minister’s policy.”
MK Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz) shouted toward Minister Cohen: “Do you really think the protest is because of Iran? I haven’t heard such nonsense in years.”