According to a New Journalistic Investigation: Israel Has “A Big Brother” Problem. The Police Spied on the Phones of Harmless Citizens Without Authorization.

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Source: From a Wikipedia Article on George Orwell’s Big Brother (Nineteen Eighty-Four). Free Art License (Copyright © Frederic Guimont)

The Hebrew Web Site reports (translation by
Police have in recent years hacked into civilians’ phones using NSO’s Pegasus spyware, without a court order or a judge’s supervision. This was reported this morning (Tuesday) in an investigation by journalist Tomer Gonen in the Calcalist newspaper. The software in question, it should be noted, caused a stir following an investigation published last year by 17 journalistic bodies that governments around the world have used against journalists, politicians, officials, human rights activists, presidents and prime ministers….
In other cases, the investigation said, the software was implanted in citizens’ phones to find and collect materials and information that are not necessarily related to the investigation and suspicions, but so that later on these materials would be used by investigators to put pressure on people who were being interrogated.

The police on their part, have issued a statement, claiming all their activity was legal and authorized by the courts.

According to another Hebrew article at :
In a follow up to this report, the chairman of the Internal Security Committee, Merav Ben-Ari, will set up an urgent discussion on the use of Pegasus to collect intelligence from civilians’ phones. The surveillance software was purchased by the police in 2013, but it was not until 2015 that police began instructing then-commissioner Roni Alshich to use the software.

It should be noted, spyware is an effective tool in the fight against terrorism and early detection of terrorist attacks; but the police simply spied on every Israeli citizen they wanted – without any special reason.
The order to spy on Israeli citizens who did nothing – was given by high-ranking police officers, without a court order or the supervision of a judge.
Those who received the order and carried it out were members of the special operations team in the police cyber division “Signet”, whose entire activity is secret.

Among other things, the police hacked through the software into the phone of an incumbent mayor to find evidence against him – which they did find. But the hacking was illegal and was not at all known to the judges, so the police ‘laundered’ the information in their possession by claiming that they had received it “from intelligence sources”. In addition, Pegasus software was implanted in the cell phone of an associate of a senior politician, to try to find evidence for their corruption investigation.

New Addition – 17th of Shvat, Jan 19th reports, out of 3,692 requests by the Police to “Eavesdrop” in secular year 2020 (Jewish year 5780) only 26 were refused by the courts. Judges also claim when the requests were brought to them, they were not told what type of eavesdropping and what type of technology such as, Pegasus, would be used. They just gave a general permit and it was up to the police to decide.

Another article at claims that the police employed illegal hackers without any security clearance. The claim made by Calcalist was that at least 3 hackers who were not part of the police force and had no security clearance and who were not subject to judicial supervision were paid to break into private security networks of companies, insurance records etc.

According to the article, the police misrepresented the background of these hackers to the courts.