A leading Israeli newspaper is criticising reports about investigations into spies in the wake of the Christchurch earthquake as far-fetched fiction and Israel-bashing.
The New Zealand government says it investigated possible connections between a group of Israeli backpackers caught up in the quake and Israeli intelligence organisations.
In a hard-hitting editorial, the right-leaning Jerusalem Post says the story is a cock-and-bull tale that reveals blatant prejudice against Israelis, and is an example of distorted news reports that demonise Israel.
The paper does not limit its criticism to the media. The editorial says the circumstances did not warrant scrutiny by the New Zealand Secret Intelligence Service and no other foreign nationals would have had investigations launched on such unsubstantiated suspicions.
The editorial says the theft of New Zealand passports by Israeli spies in 2004 does not justify that kind of behaviour.