“In a situation where there is very widespread infection and there’s isn’t another solution, it would be right to transfer this to the [Shin Bet],” Argaman says in the recordings, referring to the controversial tracking program.
The network said in other parts of the recordings it could not air for censorship reasons, Argaman explains what technologies the Shin Bet is using to track sick people and why it should only be employed in extreme cases.
Prime Minister Netanyahu, however, insisted to Argaman that tracking program was needed.
“The ships are coming one after another and we’re refusing to believe,” Netanyahu is heard saying in the recordings, referring to outbreaks of COVID-19. “And they say nothing will happen. Our responsibility is to stop this pandemic. The pandemic is returning! Returning! The question now is how much we’re prepared to do about this thing, which will quickly reach us.”
The network didn’t say when the recordings were made.
The report came as Netanyahu is said to be interested in renewing the Shin Bet’s tracking powers, which lapsed earlier this month after the new government declined to anchor them in law.
Health Minister Yuli Edelstein becomes the latest member of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Likud party to call for the revival of the Shin Bet’s use of sensitive personal data to track coronavirus carriers.
“The [cellphone] location is very important. It’s preferable that the information be in the hands of the Shin Bet than a private company,” Edelstein says in a statement after meeting with top ministry officials. “We’re in critical days and quickly interrupting the infecting chain… is very important in order to flatten the curve while leaving the economy open.”
According to Hebrew media reports, the so-called coronavirus cabinet is set to discuss passing legislation reviving the controversial tracking program when it convenes tomorrow.
Header: Shin Bet chief Nadav Argaman, left, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attend an awards ceremony at the Shin Bet’s headquarters in Tel Aviv honoring agents who excelled in intelligence operations in 2017 and 2018, on December 4, 2018. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)