Israel's intelligence agency Shin Bet has admitted that Iranian hackers got hold of election hopeful Benny Gantz's personal data and sensitive material from his mobile phone.
Gantz downplayed the hacking and said that his phone did not include any sensitive material, but his Blue and White (Kahol Lavan) alliance issue a statement claiming that the timing of the hacking report was meant to affect his electoral campaign ahead of the upcoming election on 9 April.
"Gantz is the leading candidate to be Israel's prime minister and it is clear to every citizen and intelligent person that the timing of the leak wasn't coincidental," the Times of Israel reported Blue and White saying in the statement.
"The briefings [to the media] by [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu's associates began last night and the wholesale spreading of lies proves beyond a doubt who is behind this story and why," the statement added.
Meanwhile, during a press conference held near the Gaza fence, Gantz dismissed the claims of the hacking and described it as "political gossip". "We are in the middle of an ongoing security incident […] and someone all of a sudden puts out a story that is complete hallucinatory political gossip," Gantz said.
"The phone is not the story. There was no threat against me, there is no security information there, and I am not subject to blackmail in any way," he explained, stating that "someone is pushing this spin and is turning the real problem into one that does not exist".
#IsraElex19: Israeli Elections 2019
Gantz's ally, former Defence Minister Moshe Ya'alon, commented on the reports saying: "It is a political event, not a security event." Speaking to the Israel's Channel 13, Ya'alon continued: "The prime minister, in order to survive politically, is burning everything."