Israel Briefs: Former Minister Sentenced to 11 Years, Israelis Worried About Election Safety and More

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Former Israeli Minister Sentenced to 11 Years

Former Israeli Minister Gonen Segev — who gave sensitive information to Iranian intelligence officials for six years — received an 11-year prison term as part of a plea bargain with the Jerusalem District Court, JNS.org reported.

The former minister of energy and infrastructure had a charge of assisting an enemy in wartime stricken in exchange for reduced charges concerning security-related offenses.

“The defendant gave the Iranians secret information with the intention of harming state security,” the charge sheet said. “Among other things, the information included the location of security installations, the names of security personnel and more. The accused also gave the Iranians dozens of pieces of information in order to harm state security.”

Segev was extradited to Israel from Equatorial Guinea. He had been living in Nigeria since serving time in 2007 for drug smuggling.

The official sentencing is set for Feb. 11.

Record Amount Raised by Israel High-Tech Companies for Sixth Consecutive Year

Israeli high-tech companies recorded a sixth consecutive year of record growth in 2018, raising $6.47 billion via 623 financial deals, The Jerusalem Post reported, citing data from IVC Research Center and ZAG S&W Zysman, Aharoni, Gayer & Co.

The number of deals declined from 661 in 2017, but the amount of capital raised increased 17 percent from $5.52 billion. Annual funding has climbed by about 120 percent since 2013.

“Most of the capital was raised by well-established software companies with annual revenues of up to $10 million in the verticals of AI [artificial intelligence] and cybersecurity,” said Marianna Shapira, research director at IVC Research Center. “The term ‘wealth attracts money’ describes the continued investment trend in Israel, as in the U.S.”

Six in 10 Israelis Worry About Hacked Elections

A Pew Research Center poll showed that 62 percent of Israelis surveyed are worried that the country’s upcoming elections could be tampered by hacking, The Times of Israel reported.

That said, 73 percent said the country can handle a major cyberattack, the highest among the 26 countries surveyed by Pew. But 59 percent are concerned hackers could access national security information, while 67 percent believe an attack could damage the nation’s infrastructure.

On Jan. 7, Shin Bet head Nadav Argaman said a foreign nation “intends to intervene” in the April election, but didn’t specify which one.

Population Growth Slows in Judea and Samaria

Population growth in Judea and Samaria continued a 10-year decline in 2018, JNS.org reported, citing data from the Council of Jewish Communities in Judea and Samaria.

The 2018 population growth was 3 percent in 2018, compared to 3.4 percent a year earlier and 3.9 percent in 2016. There were 12,964 new residents in 2018, compared to 14,299 in 2017.

Settlement leaders attributed the decline to the government not building enough new settlement homes. The Jewish growth rate in Judea and Samaria began dropping in 2009 when Israel agreed to President Barack Obama’s demand to freeze construction. A year earlier, population growth reached an all-time high of 5.6 percent.

At the end of 2018, there were 448,672 Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria.

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