Israel Police hacked only 3 out of 26 people named in spying scandal

Written by on February 8, 2022

The police on Tuesday night presented to Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, newly sworn-in Attorney-General Gali Baharav-Miara, Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar and Public Security Minister Omer Bar Lev findings that it only tried to hack three cell phones from the list of the Calcalist report’s 26 alleged hacked persons, Channel 12 reported.

Bennett’s spokesman said that there will be an initial review of the police spying scandal findings which will also include officials from the Mossad and the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), followed by a likely state inquiry.

In addition, the police said that out of the three people its cyber unit tried to hack, it was only successful in one case, and this was done legally.

Since Monday’s latest Calcalist disclosures, the political ground has shifted to focusing on what kind of a state inquiry to approve as opposed to whether Deputy Attorney-General Amit Merari’s criminal probe might be sufficient on its own.

The shift also had concrete consequences in the public corruption trial of former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu when the prosecution on Tuesday requested postponing further witnesses until Sunday of next week so it can take more time to probe and clarify the latest police spyware scandal issues.

 Israel Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai visits at a temporary roadblock on Highway 1 outside Jerusalem (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90) Israel Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai visits at a temporary roadblock on Highway 1 outside Jerusalem (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

The Jerusalem District Court quickly approved the request even though on Monday it had ordered the prosecution to provide an update on the police cell phone hacking allegations no later than 2:00 p.m. Tuesday.

The decision to seek a delay came even as the prosecution has been on general notice of the issue for weeks and has faced a deadline since Thursday last week.

In fact, the prosecution appeared so shaken up by the current situation, that it was unclear what it would do down to almost minutes before the deadline.

It is unclear if the prosecution’s update on Sunday will lead to the trial restarting or if there will be an unspecified much longer delay fighting over whatever update the prosecution provides.

The prosecution is checking all relevant cell phones in Cases 1000 and 4000, saying that no eavesdropping activities were taken or necessary in Case 2000 – given that the key evidence was discovered in a court approved physical search of former top Netanyahu aide Ari Harow’s cell phone.

But the defense has foreshadowed that it will not trust the prosecution’s findings and will demand NSO Group or some other outside authority do its own probe into the scandal

On Monday, the testimony of cable authority legal adviser and witness Dana Neufeld finished an hour early when the court ordered the prosecution to provide an update on the police spying scandal by 2:00 p.m. Tuesday in place of an evening deadline.

Neufeld’s testimony was halted when the prosecution started to ask about text messages between her and former top Netanyahu aide turned state’s witness Shlomo Filber.

After losing two rounds of earlier arguments to halt hearing witnesses pending clarifications regarding the police cell phone hacking scandal, the defense finally convinced the judges that it would be unfair to let Neufeld refer to Filber’s texts, given that Filber’s texts may be at the center of the hacking saga.

Neufeld is an important witness for the prosecution since she was one of the few non-political officials who signed off on the YES-Bezeq merger which is at the center of the Case 4000 media bribery charge against Netanyahu and Bezeq and Walla owner Shaul Elovitch.

With the situation continuing to get more serious, current Police Chief Kobi Shatai said he had cut short his important visit to the UAE and was rushing back to Israel Tuesday night.

Meanwhile, Yediot Ahronot on Tuesday reported for the first time on the narrative of former police chief Roni Alsheich, though the report attributed the extensive response to sources close to the former chief.

Alsheich has been taking an increasing beating in the public debate over the police cell phone hacking scandal as more details have been leaked to the press, because much of the increased power of the police cyber unit occurred on his watch of 2015-2018.

According to the report, Alsheich mostly called the use of cell phone hacking technology as critical for combating terror, organized criminal syndicates, pornography and solving some murder cases.

Like responses from current police officials to date, he said that anytime cell phones were hacked it was with approvals from the Attorney-General’s Office and the courts.

In the report, one of the few cases that Alsheich addressed directly was cell phone hacking in the criminal probe of Likud MK David Bitan.

Alsheich said he knew exactly which judge approved the cell phone hacking in that case.

He rejected allegations of illegal spying on journalists, activists and government officials, but did not give other specific rebuttals.

Some of the allegations also occurred during the term of former police chief Moti Cohen 2018-2020.

Cohen has not provided his narrative yet, though as an extended temporary chief, he is viewed by many as a less prominent figure in the scandal than Alsheich.

Also, on Tuesday it was disclosed that former justice ministry director-general Emi Palmor, former finance ministry director-general Shai Baabad and former transportation ministry director-general Keren Tarnor had sent a letter to Bennett, Baharav-Miara, Sa’ar, Bar Lev and others to receive clarifications about allegations that the police had hacked their cell phones.

The letter referred to “horrifying revelations” from the Calcalist report about all of them being spied on without even a criminal probe in place.

Originally posted =>

Reader's opinions

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


House of Prayer

Current track



Current show

Current show