Israeli police use a surveillance system to spy on citizens and residents

Following the AG’s decision to set up a team to investigate reports of the illegal use of NSO spyware, Adalah demanded a full, public account of the police’s use of these systems

On 23 January 2022, Adalah - The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel sent a letter to the Attorney General (AG), the Deputy AG for Criminal Matters, the Internal Security Minister, and the Police Commissioner demanding that they publish a detailed, public account of the police’s use of surveillance systems against citizens and residents. In the letter, Adalah Attorney Rabea Eghbariah requested that the authorities also clarify the legal situation surrounding the system’s purchase and use.


CLICK HERE to read Adalah’s letter  


Adalah’s demand follows the AG’s announcement that due to a series of articles published in the Calcalist newspaper, he would launch an investigation led by the Deputy AG on Criminal Matters, Attorney Amit Merri. These articles suggest that the Israeli police's cyber-intelligence unit purchased the NSO Group's powerful Pegasus spyware in 2013, and that it tracks telephones of citizens and residents, including the telephones of individuals who are not suspected of any crime, and that it does so without any court warrant. The articles also reveal that the police used additional technological means of surveillance and hired hackers for surveillance and for the hacking of information systems.


In December 2020, Adalah sent a letter to the Internal Security Minister and the AG following media reports regarding the existence of a secret police system for monitoring the online activity of citizens or residents in Israel. In that letter, Adalah demanded that the AG and the Minister immediately freeze the police use of the secret monitoring system, along with clarifying the legality of the system’s establishment and use and specifying its purpose and mode of operation. The police’s official response to Adalah’s letter in 2020 is almost identical to its response in recent weeks. The police claimed then that its activity is carried out only in accordance with the surveillance law. So far, the investigation team headed by the Deputy AG has issued a report noting that it reviewed the allegations and that: “the technological tests revealed that there is no indication that the Israeli police used the Pegasus system in its possession without a court order, against any of the people listed in the media.” However, it also concluded that the investigation will continue.


CLICK HERE to read Adalah’s December 2020 letter  


In its new letter, Adalah reiterated that the police has no legal authority to purchase and operate such an exceptional and intrusive surveillance system against citizens and residents, especially against individuals who are not suspected of any criminal activity and without any warrant issued by a court.  Adalah will closely monitor developments.


Related Press Releases:

Israeli police using secret system to monitor internet activities of Israeli citizens; Adalah demands immediate freeze 16 December 2020