IDF censor urges probe over possible leak of top-secret info

IDF censor urges probe over possible leak of top-secret info

Brig. Gen. Sima Vaknin-Gil says report in Haaretz on Israeli-Iranian financial dealings caused ‘serious harm’ to national security

Sima Vaknin-Gil. (Wikimedia Commons/Hidro, CC BY-SA 3.0)
Sima Vaknin-Gil. (Wikimedia Commons/Hidro, CC BY-SA 3.0)

IDF Chief Military Censor Brig. Gen. Sima Vaknin-Gil urged the Attorney General’s Office to launch an immediate investigation into a possible severe breach of military protocol by high-ranking security officials who allegedly leaked sensitive information regarding Israel’s secret dealings with the Iranian government to the Haaretz newspaper, according to a Channel 2 report Sunday.

In a letter from Vaknin-Gil obtained by Channel 2, the chief military censor assessed that a Haaretz article, which revealed details about an ongoing legal dispute between Jerusalem and Tehran — over an arbitration involving oil supply agreements, dating back to before Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution — had caused “serious harm” to the country’s national security. The disputed fees in question are believed to amount to billions of dollars, according to the Haaretz report.

Vaknin-Gil specifically noted a section in the Haaretz article that revealed Israel had set up a secret fund in case the government or local oil companies lose in international court cases and be forced to pay compensation to Iran. There were only a handful of senior officials who knew about the fund, according to sources, a fact that suggests the leaks came from highly placed officials in possession of many other state secrets.

Haaretz, for its part, maintained that its article on the dispute was warranted from a journalistic standpoint and that its publication had not violated any state rules, Channel 2 reported.

In 1968, the Eilat Ashkelon Pipeline Company was established as a joint Israeli-Iranian venture to carry Asian oil from Eilat to Europe via a network of pipelines that reach from Eilat to Ashkelon and up the length of Israel’s coast to Haifa. According to the EAPC website, the company currently operates 750 kilometers of pipeline in Israel.

As relations between Israel and Iran deteriorated in the wake of the Islamic Revolution, the latter partner dropped out of the arrangement and the company is now managed only by the Israeli side. However, for years Iran has continued to demand that Israel pay back debts acquired when the arrangement was still valid.

Adiv Sterman and Stuart Winer contributed to this report.

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