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Israel Police using NSO’s Pegasus to spy on citizens

  • January 18, 2022

Israel Police has been using NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware to breach the mobile phones of citizens, “Calcalist” reported this morning. According to the report, surveillance of suspects was undertaken without a court order.

Among those under surveillance were the leaders of the “Black Flag” protests against former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, mayors of Israeli cities who was suspected of corruption, and leading opponents of the Jerusalem Gay Parade, following the murder of Shira Banky in 2015.

The report said that the spyware was operated by a special operations team in the Israel Police SIGINT unit without any court order or judicial supervision.

“Calcalist” said that former Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino decided to purchase the Pegasus spyware from NSO and his successor Roni Alsheikh made it operational.

The report said that the decision to track Israeli citizens who were not offenders or suspects was taken at the highest level.

Last summer NSO was the subject of a wide ranging investigation by Forbidden Stories and Amnesty International, which was published together with 17 newspapers worldwide including the UK “Guardian” and “The Washington Post,” which found that Pegasus spyware had been used by many regimes for surveillance of human rights activists, political opponents, journalists and even foreign governments. The US Department of Commerce has blacklisted NSO as acting against US national interests.

Cyberattack company NSO was founded in 2010 in Israel. Its Pegasus spyware is unique in that it can be downloaded onto a mobile device without the user needing to click on any external link. Israel’s Ministry of Defense only allows NSO to sell to foreign governments and each deal must be individually approved.

Israel Police said, “Regarding claims that Israel Police supposedly uses spyware as published this morning in ‘Calcalist,’ we would like to put things into accurate perspective. There is no truth in claims in the article published today. All police activities in this sector are according to law and based on court orders and strict work procedures. In this field there are strong supervision and control mechanisms both within and outside of the organization. We regret this groundless attempt to cause damage to police activities. Israel Police will continue to work resolutely to enforce the laws of the State of Israel.”

Minister of Internal Security Omer Bar-Lev said, “There is no practice by Israel Police of wiretapping or breaching phones without a judge’s approval.”

Published by Globes, Israel business news – – on January 18, 2022.

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd., 2022.

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