Associated Press: Palestinian rights activists’ phones hacked by Israel’s Pegasus program


The American Associated Press reported that cyber security researchers discovered that the phones of 6 Palestinian human rights activists were hacked by the “Pegasus” spyware produced by the Israeli company “NSO”, and half of the targeted activists are linked to Palestinian NGOs. Tel Aviv classified it a few days ago as a terrorist organization.

Cyber ​​security experts from the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab, and Amnesty International added that they did not know who was behind the hack, but shortly after the breach was revealed in mid-October, the Minister of Defense announced Israeli Benny Gantz has classified 6 Palestinian NGOs as terrorist organizations on the pretext that they represent a cover for the activities of Palestinian groups, including the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

Experts revealed that 4 of the six hacked phones carry Israeli chips, and Frontline Defenders and two of the victims of the hack by Pegasus software say that they consider Israel the main suspect, and that Tel Aviv’s classification of Palestinian organizations on the list of terrorism may have come to cover up the disclosure About penetrating the phones of Palestinian human rights activists.

Palestinian organizations

And the “Front Line Defenders” organization – based in Ireland – adds that 3 of the Palestinian activists whose phones were hacked work with organizations in Palestinian civil society, while the remaining three requested anonymity.

Among those hacked was Abu al-Aboudi, a 37-year-old economist with Palestinian and American citizenship who is director of the Bisan Center for Research and Development based in Ramallah in the West Bank, and is among the organizations that Israel designated as a terrorist group on October 22 the past.

Among the victims of the breach were researcher Ghassan Halaika from the human rights organization “Al-Haq”, and lawyer Salah Hammouri from the “Conscience for Prisoner Care and Human Rights” organization, both organizations designated by Tel Aviv as terrorist organizations.

Representatives of Palestinian human rights organizations demanded a comprehensive international investigation into the goals and motives for hacking Palestinian activists’ phones using Pegasus technology. In a press conference held today in Ramallah, representatives of these organizations called on the United Nations to include the “NSO” company in the blacklist.

They added that this penetration coincided with the decision of the occupation authorities to consider 6 Palestinian organizations and associations as terrorist organizations, confirming that the Israeli authorities are behind the espionage operation, and that it poses a threat to the lives and activities of the workers in these organizations.

Company Feedback

In response to the Associated Press’s publication, NSO said it cannot detect its customers who use Pegasus, due to contractual and national security considerations, adding that it sells the spyware only to government agencies in order to fight “serious crime and terrorism.”

And the newspaper “Yediot Aharonot” quoted Israeli sources as saying that Tel Aviv fears not granting immunity to its electronic companies, after Washington included a week ago the Israeli “NSO” company and another Israeli company in the list of foreign companies that harm its national interests, and the US Department of Commerce explained. In a statement listing “NSO” on the blacklist that the company’s work poses a threat to the international system.

Last December, the investigative program “What is Hidden Greatest” – which is broadcast on Al-Jazeera screen – succeeded in tracking the penetration of the phones of media professionals and activists to spy on them through sophisticated and unusual electronic hacking holes.

The program presented by our colleague Tamer Al-Mishal in the investigation of “espionage partners” was able to reach exclusive evidence and details related to various phone hacking operations to spy on their users, the advanced mechanisms for this, and the countries involved in the spying and penetration market.

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