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Dozens arrested in bribery case involving ministry, Israel Railways officials

Senior figures in government and northern municipality suspected of advancing bids in exchange for benefits

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Illustrative photo of a train at the Yitzhak Navon train station in Jerusalem, on May 11, 2020.
(Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
Illustrative photo of a train at the Yitzhak Navon train station in Jerusalem, on May 11, 2020. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Dozens of people were arrested or detained for questioning on Monday morning, including senior figures in the Housing Ministry and Israel Railways, on suspicion of involvement in a major graft case.

The Israel Police said in a statement that 11 people were arrested and another 18 detained for questioning on suspicion of bribery, fraud, breach of trust, money laundering, tax offenses and other crimes.

Police said simply that those arrested include civil servants in a government ministry, a northern municipality and a public company. Hebrew media reported that they include senior figures from the Housing and Construction Ministry and Israel Railways, the country’s national train company. Other suspects are said to be contractors.

With the arrests, a monthslong undercover investigation by the Lahav 433 serious crime unit became public, police said. The investigation is being carried out together with tax authorities, the statement said.

One of those questioned is a person who was involved in another large graft case over 20 years ago and spent time in prison, Channel 13 news reported.

Investigators suspect that the officials influenced bids on government contracts in return for benefits “in violation of the law and while harming the public interest,” police said, without elaborating.

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