World

‘U.S. inputs enabled Israeli assaults’

Although the U.S. directly enabled, for many years, Israel’s military assaults on neighbouring territories such as the recent assault on Gaza, Israeli intelligence forces covertly spied upon Secretary of State John Kerry during last year’s failed peace talks with the Palestinians, said multiple reports this week.

New revelations stemming from documents made available by Edward Snowden, former National Security Agency contractor-turned-fugitive whistle-blower, included information on the NSA significantly increasing the surveillance assistance it provides to its Israeli counterpart, the Israeli SIGINT National Unit, also known as Unit 8200 over the last decade.

This cooperation by the NSA included “data used to monitor and target Palestinians,” said a report by The Intercept, the publication founded by investigative journalist Glen Greenwald and others who had worked with Mr. Snowden in bringing NSA surveillance reports to light.

In addition to handing over, on at least one occasion, a “covert payment of a large amount of cash to Israeli operatives,” U.S. intelligence also worked with Tel Aviv to offer surveillance coverage of “geographic targets [that] include the countries of North Africa, the Middle East, the Persian Gulf, South Asia, and the Islamic republics of the former Soviet Union,” the Intercept report noted.

However there appeared to be a flavour of irony in the revelations of the report even as it was accompanied by an exposé in German magazine Der Spiegel that “The Israelis and at least one other secret service listened in on Kerry's conversations as he tried to mediate… with high-ranking officials throughout the Middle East during the negotiations that finally collapsed earlier this year.”

Although Mr. Kerry's office and the Israeli government declined to comment on this report Der Spiegel cited “several sources among secret services,” confirming that the Secretary had used not only secure lines but also normal telephones with satellite connections which were vulnerable to tapping, adding that the Israeli government “used this information in the negotiations on a diplomatic solution in the Middle East.”

Further shining a light on the murky Israel-U.S. alliance in the context of previous rounds of violence in Gaza, anti-secrecy website Wikileaks, published on Twitter several secret and confidential cables quoting U.S. diplomats saying that soldiers of the Israel Defence Forces “testified to instances where Gazans were used as human shields, incendiary phosphorous shells were fired over civilian population areas, and other examples of excessive firepower that caused unnecessary fatalities and destruction of property.”

Wikileaks also published cables in which ”Israeli officials… confirmed to Embassy officials on multiple occasions that they intend to keep the Gazan economy functioning at the lowest level possible consistent with avoiding a humanitarian crisis.”


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Printable version | Jan 22, 2022 3:32:03 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/world/us-inputs-enabled-israeli-assaults/article6281174.ece

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