Shin Bet head: We thwarted but failed to prevent Iran spy plot

Probe describes poor vetting of Benny Gantz’s house cleaner as a “professional failure.”

By Lilach Shoval, Israel Hayom via

An investigation into a major security breach at the home of Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz, surrounding a cleaner at his house who had not been vetted by the Shin Bet security agency being indicted for allegedly offering to spy for Iran, has ended with a written reprimand for two high-ranking Shin Bet officials, the agency announced on Tuesday evening.

Shin Bet head Ronen Bar appointed an external committee to probe how suspect Omri Goren—who had multiple criminal convictions—would have been employed at Gantz’s home. The committee was comprised of three retired Shin Bet officials, including two former department heads and a former division leader.

The committee submitted its findings to Bar, along with recommendations for action to be taken. The committee described the affair as a “professional failure,” citing lack of coordination at the professional level and in “work procedures.”

On the basis of the investigation’s findings, Bar decided to issue a written reprimand to two senior officials in the organization.

Meanwhile, the Shin Bet has evaluated security arrangements for the individuals for whom it is responsible, and tightened background checks and testing procedures for anyone employed in “close circles” of officials provided with Shin Bet security.

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Bar also issued instructions to add additional levels of intelligence and operational security when it comes to the officials whom it secures.

However, Bar did praise the rapid action taken to locate and arrest Goren within 48 hours of the time that he allegedly contacted a hostile entity.

“Despite the success in thwarting [the plot], we failed to prevent it,” Bar said. “If the process had worked, a person like this would never have been working near a protectee. The failure that took place in this isolated incident allowed us to take an in-depth look at the processes and mechanisms involving the issue of those employed close to protectees.”

“The probe gave us a chance to examine professional work processes in the service,” he added. “The conclusions of the investigative committee, as well as an in-depth process of learning lessons, have already been translated into actions on the ground that will significantly reduce the chance of incidents like this happening again.”