The latest revelations from the documents leaked by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden once again concern Israel.
Glenn Greenwald’s site The Intercept revealed last week that American and British spies have managed to hack into the visual feed of the Israeli drones and F16 fighter jets that regularly bomb the civilian population of Gaza.
The programme is based on the island of Cyprus, and its code name is “Anarchist”. It dates as far back as January 2008, at a time when Israel was bombing Gaza in an attack which killed and injured Palestinian civilians, including at least one child.
The GCHQ base on Cyprus intercepted Israeli drone feeds and sent the information back to the UK and to their allies in the NSA. Images published by The Intercept even show several video stills in which the wings of recognisable Israeli drone models are viewable, as well as radar maps of occupied Palestine.
It’s unknown if this hacking is still ongoing. But these revelations are another sign of how fraught the military and intelligence relationship is between Israel and its ostensible Western allies.
Read the rest over at MEMO.
A Parliamentary debate on the war in Yemen Thursday resulted in ridiculous scenes. A Tory minister with the Foreign Office claimed of a vital UN report that he “hadn’t received it officially” even as he waved a copy in his hand. This resulted in mocking laughter from the opposition benches.
But of course the report is no laughing matter. A UN panel of experts, in a report leaked Wednesday, has found that the Saudi-led bombing campaign against Yemen has involved “widespread and systematic” attacks on civilian targets.
Saudi Arabia is one of the biggest buyers of British-made weapons, and successive Labour and Conservative governments have considered it as a top ally. So it’s no surprise to find a government minister defending alleged Saudi war crimes in this way.
Read the rest over at MEMO.
Ireland’s second-largest company announced earlier this month that it had entirely sold-off its 25 per cent stake in the holding corporation of Israel’s only cement-making firm. This withdrawal followed a decade-long campaign by Irish activists calling on the company, CRH, to divest from Israeli cement-maker, Nesher.
The Irish company had admitted “in all probability” that cement from the firm had been used to build Israel’s apartheid wall in the West Bank (which the World Court declared illegal in 2004). Nesher’s cement is also used in the construction of Israeli settlements in the West Bank – which are build on land belonging to dispossessed and expelled Palestinians and are illegal under international law.
The sale was the largest of 13 divestments CRH made in 2015, totalling €260 million, according to a new report released by the company. While CRH denied that there was anything other than purely business motives behind their decision to divest, the sale of the huge stake in Nesher is part of a growing trend.
At a “security” conference in Tel Aviv last week, top-level Israeli speakers argued the case for viewing Israel as being in the same trench as the so-called Islamic State.
It sounds like an unlikely thing for me to be reporting, but it happened all the same. “Islamic State”, a hideously violent extremist group, has made very few rhetorical statements against Israel. It has certainly engaged in anti-Semitic rhetoric, and terrorists linked to Islamic State have carried out anti-Semitic attacks in the West – but that is a very different thing from targeting Israel itself (and in fact anti-Semitic attacks in the West only fuel the false Zionist narrative about Israel being the only safe place for Jews).
But, aside from the odd stray missile, the group has never targeted Israel. Most of its attacks have been focused on those it considered infidels in the the Middle East. These include native Christians and non-Sunni Muslims in the Arab world, but the largest part of its victims have been ordinary Sunni Muslims.
Continue reading over at MEMO.
A fascinating article by a Jerusalem Post Knesset reporter earlier this month gives quite the insight into the increasingly desperate state of the Israeli “war” against BDS. The boycott, divestment and sanctions movement aims to hold Israel to account for its crimes against the Palestinian people.
At first ignored, and later derided, the BDS movement has by now become one of the top strategic threats to Israel’s ability carry on the business of occupation as usual. Formally founded in 2005, the movement aims to encourage people of conscious around the world to boycott Israel products, dis-invest from Israeli businesses and to put pressure on governments to implement sanctions against Israel.
And over the last 11 years, the movement has achieved some impressive results, despite an enormous and well-funded backlash by Israel’s powerful supporters in the West. Examples are too numerous to detail, but the most recent victory has been the move of the United Methodist Church in the US to divest its $20-billion pension fund of any stake in five Israeli banks – excluded for their involvement in illegal Israeli settlements built on confiscated Palestinian land in the West Bank.
Read more over at MEMO.
Last month I wrote about Israel’s high-tech industry and how integrated it is with with state intelligence and military agencies. Top figures in the same agencies that systematically spy on and persecute Palestinian civilians often later go on to work in the private sector.
One reader of that article alerted me to another such “revolving door” figure. Matan Caspy, the co-founder and head of operations at the firm which sells the Wifi spy boxes I wrote about listed on his LinkedIn page that he was for eight years a “special operation agent and team leader” with the Shin Bet, Israel’s secret police.
Four years after he left he would found the firm, Rayzone. Is the idea that he and his friends and colleagues at the Shin Bet do not still stay in touch and share information the least bit credible? Of course not.
Caspy boasting about his links to Israeli spooks might not seem the brightest thing to do for a former spy. But apparently, high-tech investors and buyers seems to love the idea that their spy gear is made by an ex-Israeli spy. (Since I wrote that last article on Rayzone, his LinkedIn has been deleted. But I made copies, so you can still read it here.)
But revelations in the Wall Street Journal last month suggest an intriguing possibility: what if the Rayzone “InterApp Interception System” (designed to spy on Wifi connections within range of a small box) also clandestinely spies on the foreign state agencies it is marketed to?
The new revelations show there is a precedent.
Read the rest over at MEMO.