Shin Bet Reportedly Fears Russian, Iranian Interference in Upcoming Israeli Election

Shin Bet Reportedly Fears Russian, Iranian Interference in Upcoming Israeli Election


Shin Bet Reportedly Fears Russian, Iranian Interference in Upcoming Israeli Election

Israel’s security establishment is reportedly concerned about the possibility of foreign interference in the upcoming Israeli parliamentary election by Russian and Iranian hackers. As a result, the Shin Bet has launched “Operation Defend our Democracy” to thwart potential attacks and attempts to use manipulation of the election to sow chaos and polarization in Israel, Channel 12 reported. The main tool that Israel’s security agencies expect to be used to manipulate the election is through social media bot accounts and fake profiles. Channel 12’s report recalled that during the last round of elections, held in March of 2021, Shin Bet worked to remove over 140,000 Iranian bots attempting to influence the elections.

Shin Bet is now concerned that Russian and Iranian actors will work to escalate polarizing rhetoric between Israelis, which the agency fears could even lead to violence. Shin Bet has been taking preemptive measures to counter the effects of such manipulation and exploitation of Israeli polarization by sending warnings to individual Israelis against the use of such rhetoric, and meeting with rabbis and other leaders of the right-leaning National Religious camp to urge them to use their influence to maintain civil political discourse.  

Shin Bet believes Iran’s goal won’t necessarily be to influence the outcome of the next elections or the identity of the next prime minister, but to spread polarizing rhetoric and fake information regarding candidates to increase polarization in Israeli society. 

Israeli Army Seals Hamas Attack Tunnel Stretching Below the Gaza Border 

The Israeli army announced Monday that it had sealed an attack tunnel that Hamas dug from the northern Gaza Strip toward Israel. According to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), the tunnel extended under the border between Gaza into Israeli territory but was halted by the underground defensive barrier that Israel completed along the border in December. It therefore did not pose a danger to residents on the Israeli side. Nimrod Aloni, the outgoing commander of the IDF’s Gaza Division, said the tunnel had been attacked during last year’s war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, but added that Hamas had recently begun rebuilding it.  

The tunnel extended from Gaza City and approached Kibbutz Alumim, near the border, Aloni said, at which point it branched off into a second tunnel.

Aloni explained that during the short-lived bout of fighting between Israel and Islamic Jihad in Gaza earlier this month, work on the tunnel had come to a halt, but that on Sunday, "the forces finished sealing it.” The IDF is aware of other tunnels constructed by Hamas, he noted, but they don’t extend beyond the Israeli border barrier either. 


Hezbollah Denies Knowledge of Attacker of Salman Rushdie

An official from Hezbollah said, “we don’t know anything about this subject so we will not comment,” after author Salman Rushdie was stabbed at an event in New York last week by Hadi Matar. Despite this denial, Iran’s media has celebrated the attack against Matar, whose family is from the south Lebanon town of Yaroun. There is also evidence of Matar’s social media activity indicating an allegiance and following of Iran’s supreme leader and the Axis of Resistance. Matar’s mother has also given press interviews, alleging that her son returned from a trip to Lebanon in 2018 a changed man, more distant and religious.  


Israel Conducts Airstrike in Syria 

Israel conducted a series of airstrikes in Syria on Sunday, which Syrian state media claimed led to the death of three Syrian soldiers and multiple others wounded. The SANA news agency said on Sunday that the missile attacks took place at 8:50 pm (17:50 GMT) and targeted “some points” in the countryside near the capital, Damascus, and the coastal province of Tartous. The attacks on Damascus were carried out from a direction southeast of the Lebanese capital, Beirut, while the attacks on Tartous came from the Mediterranean Sea. In addition to the deaths, the attacks caused some “material damage,” a Syrian military source told SANA.

According to two Syrian military defectors, the Israeli strikes on Damascus hit outposts run by Hezbollah. A Syrian army officer in the Tartous coastal region told Reuters on condition of anonymity that an Iranian base near the village of Abu Afsa, south of the port city, was targeted alongside an air defense and radar station nearby. 

After the Israeli strikes, Operation Inherent Resolve reported on August 15 that it had to respond to an attack by multiple drones in the vicinity of the Al-Tanf Garrison, which houses U.S. forces. Separately, another incident took place where multiple rounds of indirect fire landed in the vicinity of Green Village in northeastern Syria shortly after 9 PM on August 15. Iran and its proxies have a history of retaliating against U.S. installations in Syria for Israeli strikes. This happened in October 2021 in a drone attack on Al-Tanf.