The leaked Pentagon documents revealed, among other things, that the Mossad leadership, Israel's Foreign Intelligence Service, encouraged its staff and Israelis to take part in the antigovernment protests which shook the country in March.
Senior Israeli defense officials rejected the findings of the U.S. Intelligence assessment, and The New York Times could not independently verify it.
Federal Bureau of Investigation officials confirmed that the agency was investigating the leak of documents. Officials acknowledged that documents appeared to be legitimate intelligence briefs and operational reports compiled by Pentagon's Joint Staff using intelligence reports from government agencies, but at least one document had been altered from its original.
However, the apparent authenticity of documents is not a guarantee of their accuracy.
Israel, where Benjamin Netanyahu was re-elected as Prime Minister in December, leading the most extreme right government coalition of its history, experienced protests and strike action in March, after the government announced plans to overhaul the judiciary. Israel's closest ally the United States criticized the proposed reforms. They would have given more power to the government in selecting judges.
According to leaked documents, a report attributed to an Intelligence Update by the Central Intelligence Agency from March 1 stated that leaders of Mossad "called on Mossad officials to protest the proposed judicial reforms of the new Israeli government, including several calls to action which decried the Israeli government."
The documents state that the information was gathered through signals intelligence. The documents that have been leaked are marked with instructions to only share them among American intelligence agencies.
Former and current Israeli intelligence officials claim that the rules of the agency and its long-standing tradition would have prevented the leadership from directly intervening in a political crisis. When asked for comment, Prime Minister's Office, which includes the Mossad, said that it was investigating the reports.
Nevertheless, some Mossad staffers requested and were granted permission to take part in the demonstrations on behalf of private citizens. According to a defense official who is familiar with Mossad's policy, David Barnea allowed junior employees to take part in the demonstrations, as long as they didn't identify themselves as Mossad members.
In March, several hundred former Mossad staff, including five former heads, signed a joint statement opposing the government's overhaul.
The protesters ultimately slowed down the progress of the proposal, and the government announced that it would put the legislation on hold until at least summer.
The Mossad has never publicly taken a stand on any social or political controversy in Israel. The Mossad, unlike the Shin Bet which is responsible for domestic security, only works outside of the country.
The leaked documents do, however, contain some information that overlaps with the unsubstantiated allegations made by Yair, the son of the Prime Minister. The younger Mr. Netanyahu claimed that the protest was the work of hostile elements within Israel's Intelligence Community and the U.S. State Department.