Phones used by Palestinian human rights groups are riddled with spyware that has enabled Israeli intelligence services to eavesdrop on phone calls, transmit video and photos and gain control of computers, the groups said.
Five human rights groups — Gisha, Adalah, B’Tselem, Adalah-Law Center and Mohammed Ali Center for the Defense of Rights — said they have received the alleged spyware from an unknown source and that “powerful Pegasus spyware was developed at the very highest levels of Israeli intelligence.”
Adalah said it detected spies using spyware developed by the Israeli company Unit 8200.
Netanyahu condemns release of suspected spy information in Israeli newspapers https://t.co/KKFqNpzJ4B pic.twitter.com/l4NtEUcsY5 — The Times of Israel (@TimesofIsrael) November 3, 2018
U.S. intelligence services provided Israel with data about Hezbollah’s secret arsenal, including bombs, boats and jets, in a 2016 weapons deal, current and former U.S. officials told the Associated Press in December.
The spyware blocks calls and Internet traffic of targeted Palestinians and could allow the Israeli intelligence service, Mossad, to penetrate a network to listen in on one or more users, researchers said.
Aaaron Rihl, who leads intelligence and cyber program for the Ofer military court, said Israel has used the spyware in civil organization cases it has pursued against Hamas in Gaza, which has launched dozens of missiles and mortar shells at Israeli population centers since a July 2014 war.
Jytte Klausen, a researcher at B’Tselem, said Thursday the use of the spyware adds “new dimensions to the abuse of data by Israeli security services.”
Spies reportedly were caught uploading a document detailing Israel’s plans for Syrian military zones to a government computer network via a router in Lebanon, Haaretz reported. Israel reportedly intends to stage mass attacks against Syrian tanks and aircraft to let the Syrian regime retaliate to Hamas rocket fire from Gaza.
This kind of espionage is likely to continue. Earlier this week, a former American spy Agency official named Jonathan Pollard, who is serving a life sentence in a U.S. prison for spying for Israel, filed an appeal for clemency. A 1992 amnesty by then-Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir did not grant Pollard clemency, prompting his attorney to sue.