Throughout its seventy-year history, the State of Israel has not missed an opportunity to assist murderous dictatorships and help facilitate crimes against humanity around the world. Besides exporting weapons, Tel Aviv has increasingly helped numerous regimes track down dissidents and target minority populations.
A recent, thoroughly researched investigation by Haaretz sheds light on the corporatization of Israeli cyber espionage. As the article makes clear, “[w]ithin a few years, the Israeli espionage industry has become the spearhead of the global commerce in surveillance tools and communications interception.” As a result of this spike, “[t]oday, every self-respecting governmental agency that has no respect for the privacy of its citizens, is equipped with spy capabilities created in Herzliya Pituah.”
The lengthy article presents the history of the Israeli espionage industry and provides numerous examples of how spyware produced and exported by Israeli companies has been used by Arab governments and regimes in Asia, Africa, and South America.
For example, Israeli malware was used to track down Ahmad Mansoor, a human rights activist from the UAE. In 2018, Abu Dhabi fined Mansoor $270,000 and sentenced him to ten years in prison for various social media posts critical of the government. Amnesty International criticized the sentencing, claiming that Mansoor “is one of the few openly critical voices in the UAE, and his persecution is another nail in the coffin for human rights activism in the country.” Israeli software was also used by Saudi Arabia and Bahrain to crack down on dissidents and by South Sudan to spy on regime opponents.
As the article explains, the software provides
[A]lmost unlimited monitoring, even commandeering, of cellphones: to discover the phone’s location, eavesdrop on it, record nearby conversations, photograph those in the vicinity of the phone, read and write text messages and emails, download apps and penetrate apps already in the phone, and access photographs, clips, calendar reminders and the contacts list. And all in total secrecy.
Haaretz‘ important investigation is based on approximately 100 sources in 15 countries, which show that:
[T]he Israeli equipment has been used to locate and detain human rights activists, persecute members of the LGBT community, silence citizens who were critical of their government and even to fabricate cases of blasphemy against Islam in Muslim countries that don’t maintain formal relations with Israel. The Haaretz investigation also found that Israeli firms continued to sell espionage products even when it was revealed publicly that the equipment was used for malicious purposes.
Read the full article here.