The Shin Bet security service secretly began tapping Israelis’ cellphones several years ago, in a clandestine program that lasted two and a half years and may be ongoing, reports Channel 13 in a bombshell revelation.
The classified operation, whose name remains under gag order, was approved by senior Justice Ministry officials, but was not subject to government or parliamentary oversight, the network says.
Former state prosecutor Shai Nitzan and Attorney General Avichai Mandeblit authorized the program, which was originally part of Shin Bet efforts to crack down on IS activity, it says.
The Justice Ministry allowed the service to access the personal data of most Israelis for six months, before later extending that continuously, for at least for 2.5 years and possibly until today, the report says.
The Shin Bet tracking is similar to its current surveillance to trace virus carriers — but unlike that program, was not required to be anchored in law.
The report says that information retrieved from the cellphones by the Shin Bet was later used in criminal cases, but the judges were not informed of the source of the evidence.
Header: A woman uses a cellphone as people wear face masks for fear of coronavirus in downtown Jerusalem, June 8, 2020. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)