Israeli spyware found on phones in 45 countries, U.S. included

Spyware on phones

Cellphone spyware sold by an Israeli security firm is suspected of being used against targets in dozens of countries including the United States, researchers warned on Tuesday, raising concerns and questions about topics ranging from eavesdropping to export control.

Known as “Pegasus,” researchers from the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab linked the malware to infections in 45 countries, including the U.S., Canada and the U.K., in addition to dozens of other nations, democratic and otherwise, Washington Times daily has reported.

Sold by NSO Group of Herzliya, Israel, Pegasus is capable of exfiltrating private data from infected cellphones, including passwords, text messages and live voice calls, and has previously been deployed against targets including Mexican journalists and a prominent United Arab Emirates human rights activists, among others.

Citizen Lab researchers scoured the internet for servers associated with Pegasus spyware during a two-year period ending August 2018, in turn discovering 1,091 IP addresses and 1,014 domain names, their the same source added.

Ultimately researchers detected a total of 45 countries “where Pegasus operators may be conducting surveillance operations,” including the U.S., Citizen Lab reported.

“The scope of this activity suggests that government-exclusive spyware is widely used to conduct activities that may be illegal in the countries where the targets are located, Citizen Lab reported. “While some of these infections may reflect usage of out-of-country VPN or satellite Internet service by targets, it is possible that several countries may be actively violating United States law by penetrating devices located within the U.S.”

NSO Group disputed the report in a statement, touting its products as “licensed only to legitimate government agencies for the sole purpose of investigating and preventing crime and terror.”

NSO Group could not immediately be reached for further comment.

At least six of the countries where Citizen Lab detected Pegasus operations have “previously been linked to abusive use of spyware to target civil society,” the report further stated.

(Source / 20.09.2018)

New report documents ‘torture in the heart of Jerusalem’

Israeli security forces brutally arrest Palestinian protesters in West Bank [Issam Rimawi - Anadolu Agency]

Israeli security forces brutally arrest Palestinian protesters in West Bank

A new report by Palestinian prisoners’ rights group Addameer claims that Israeli officials “routinely” carry out the “practice of torture” at a key interrogation facility in occupied East Jerusalem.

The report, “I’ve Been There: A Study of Torture and Inhumane Treatment in Al-Moscobiyeh Interrogation Centre”, is based on the testimonies of 138 individuals held in the Russian Compound of Jerusalem gathered during the period 2015-2017.

“For generations of Palestinians, the Russian Compound has represented the most severe interrogation facility in all of the occupied territory,” Addameer states.

“It has been the place of intentionally inflicted suffering for hundreds of prisoners. Its location in the heart of Jerusalem, next to the Old City, is something of a metaphor for the whole apparatus of the occupation. The domination is hidden in plain sight.”

Read: Lieberman, Netanyahu reject plans to reduce Palestinian prisoners’ sentences

According to the testimonies acquired by Addameer, eight forms of abuse were identified at the facility: positional torture such as “stress positions”; beatings during interrogation; isolation/solitary confinement, sleep deprivation and long interrogation, threats to family members, being subjected to sounds of torture, deliberate medical neglect, and screaming and cursing.

More than half of those surveyed reported being held in stress positions; one 18-year-old former prisoner was held in a stress position for eight hours a day, for 18 days. A third of prisoners reported being beaten, while a fifth of individuals were subjected to violent shaking.

Addameer noted that “children are no exception when it comes to mistreatment and intimidation”, with 47.8 per cent reporting “that they were beaten during their arrest”, 45.5 per cent experiencing positional torture during interrogation, and 40.9 per cent “threatened with the potentially injuring of their families if they did not cooperate”.

Read: Palestinian man dies after Israel forces beat him at his home

According to the rights group, “the primary conclusion that the above research and indicators provide is that mistreatment, and coercion, amounting to torture, are commonplace and systematic within the occupation’s interrogation systems”.

Addameer added that “as a result of torture’s status in international law, the international community has a distinct responsibility to take action to sanction the perpetrating entity”, urging “the international community to begin sanctioning the occupier for its crimes”.

(Source / 20.09.2018)

Palestinians say Israeli troops fire on Gaza protesters, one killed

Israeli forces move towards Syrian border [File photo]

Israeli forces move towards the Syrian border

Israeli forces opened fire during a demonstration in the southern Gaza Strip on Wednesday, killing a Palestinian youth, the Palestinian health ministry said, Reuters reports.

An Israeli military spokeswoman said she had no knowledge of the incident, initially.

Ashraf Al-Qidra, a spokesman for Gaza’s health ministry, said 15-year-old Moamen Ibrahim Abu Eyada was shot dead by Israeli soldiers east of the town of Rafah, which lies at the southern end of the Gaza Strip and borders Egypt.

The border between Gaza and Israel has been the scene of weekly Palestinian demonstrations since March 30 and recently, protests have taken place late at night, as was the case on Wednesday.

Read: Trump is just the latest US president to push Palestine around

The Israeli military said earlier that during the day there had been several incidents along the Gaza-Israel border “with the participation of hundreds of rioters” who rolled burning tyres and hurled firebombs and rocks at soldiers. It said there were no Israeli casualties.

At least 182 Palestinians have been killed in the protests, according to Palestinian health officials.

The Israeli army says it is defending its border against rioting protesters who have sought to breach the fence and enter Israel.

Israel withdrew its troops and settlers from Gaza in 2005 but maintains tight control of its land and sea borders and has fought three wars there in the past decade against Hamas Islamist militants that control the territory.

With Egypt, Israel has imposed a blockade that the World Bank says has brought Gaza’s economy to a crisis, leaving its 2 million people with limited access to health care, clean water and electricity.

Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians have been stalled since 2014.

(Source / 20.09.2018)

Six Palestinians killed in 24 hours shows Israel’s ‘utter disregard for right to life’, says Amnesty

Family and friends mourn during the funerals of those killed by Israeli occupation forces

Amnesty International yesterday responded to Israeli forces’ killing of six Palestinians within a 24-hour period by accusing Israeli authorities of demonstrating an “utter disregard for right to life”.

The international human rights group warned that “several of these incidents appear to involve deliberate and wilful killing of unarmed civilians and may amount to war crimes”, and also renewed its call for an arms embargo to be imposed on Israel.

“Between 10pm on Monday 17 September and 8pm on Tuesday 18 September,” Amnesty stated, “Israeli forces killed four Palestinian men in the Gaza Strip using live ammunition. Within the same period, two more died as a result of the actions of Israeli forces in the West Bank, one after being beaten during the process of arrest and another shot dead in a busy street in East Jerusalem.”

The NGO stated:

The deaths of six Palestinians within just 24 hours is a horrific demonstration of the unnecessary or excessive force deployed by Israeli forces against Palestinian civilians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT).

“It is the fact that such crimes are rarely, if ever, punished that allows unlawful killings and other violations of the right to life to continue in shameless disregard of international law,” said Saleh Higazi, deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.

“These incidents are not new in the OPT and are likely to continue unless this cycle of impunity is broken,” he added.

Read: Israeli troops kill 3 Palestinians in Gaza protests

In the context of Israel’s ongoing violent repression of Great March of Return protests in the occupied Gaza Strip, Amnesty International said it “has not documented any instances where protesters posed an imminent threat to the lives of Israeli soldiers and snipers, who have been located behind the fence, protected by military equipment, sand hills, drones and military vehicles.”

“Israel has a duty to immediately launch an independent, thorough and transparent investigation into each of these incidents and all other incidents which may involve the use of unnecessary or excessive force, torture and other ill-treatment against Palestinian civilians,” Higazi said.

“We call on the Israeli authorities to hold those found responsible for these grave violations to account through fair trials. Until this happens we will not see an end to Israeli forces’ random and apparently senseless killing and violence.”

The Amnesty official also urged the international community to “take concrete steps to stop the delivery and trade of arms and military equipment to Israel”, adding that “a failure to do so fuels serious human rights violations against millions of men, women and children suffering the consequences of 50 years of military occupation, including 11 years of blockade in the Gaza Strip”.

Read: 39 children killed by Israel in 2018

(Source / 20.09.2018)

US promises $3.3bn in military aid to Israel but cuts humanitarian aid to Palestinians

US President Donald Trump [Matt Johnson/Flickr]

US President Donald Trump

The US House of Representatives passed two separate Israel related bills this week, endorsing what is being described as the largest aid package in American history and the appointment of an international tsar to monitor anti-Semitism and criticism of Israel worldwide.

The military aid package of $3.3 billion will be delivered to Israel over the next year. This figure is likely to increase by an additional $550 million as a result of Congress passing a $716 billion defence bill. A further $1 billion has been set aside for the US weapons stockpiles in Israel, which Israel taps into during escalations of violence against the Palestinians and Lebanon. In 2016, the US agreed to give Israel $38 billion in military aid over 10 years.

The bill passed under the cover of a media blackout and at the same time that President Donald Trump pulled humanitarian aid to the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) which provides basic provisions for over five million Palestinian refugees.

Read: Trump says he won’t give aid to Palestinians unless they agree to peace deal

In August, the bill officially called the “United States-Israel Security Assistance Authorization Act of 2018” passed a Senate vote. Representing what is believed to be the single largest military aid package in American history, according to Mintpress the astronomical sum translates into $23,000 for every Jewish family living in Israel.

In addition to the massive amount that the new legislation promises to the Israeli military, the bill will also mandate NASA to cooperate closely with the Israel Space Agency. The decision has been described as very unusual in light of the Israel’s history of espionage targeting NASA.

The second bill passed by Congress has also been largely overlooked by the media. It calls for a special government envoy to be tasked with monitoring anti-Semitism and criticism of Israel worldwide.

Read: Trump cuts aid to Palestinian hospitals in occupied Jerusalem

According to the text of the bill –the “Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism Act of 2017” – the postholder would “serve as the primary advisor to, and coordinate efforts across, the United States government relating to monitoring and combating anti-Semitism and anti-Semitic incitement that occur in foreign countries.” The envoy is expected to be given the rank of an ambassador.

Opponents of the bill have pointed to the problematic nature of it citing the Congress adoption of a definition of anti-Semitism that equates criticism of Israel with racism. It’s feared that the new appointee will clamp down on domestic and international criticism of the Israeli government in a clear attack on free speech.

(Source / 20.09.2018)

PA to take action against Hamas after reconciliation fails

Palestinian children are seen outside their makeshift tent in Gaza [Ali Jadallah/Apaimages]

Palestinian children are seen outside their makeshift home in Gaza

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is believed to be preparing to cut all funding to the Gaza Strip in an effort to end the power struggle between his Fatah movement and rival faction Hamas, after reconciliation efforts failed, anonymous sources in Ramallah have revealed. According to Asharq Al-Awsat, Fatah officials have rejected Hamas’s demands to retain security control over the Gaza Strip and collect taxes there, along with a deal that would see the government absorb tens of thousands of Hamas employees.

“President Abbas is about to take a decision to halt all [PA] funding to the Gaza Strip,” Ramallah officials were quoted as saying. “He believes that all opportunities have been exhausted, and it is no longer possible to keep the situation in the Gaza Strip as it is.”

Earlier this week, a senior Fatah delegation met with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and intelligence officials in Cairo to discuss the ongoing tensions between the PA and Hamas. Egypt has attempted to broker a reconciliation deal between the two factions, but has so far failed to reach an agreement.

Senior Fatah member Azzam Al-Ahmad, who was leading the delegation, told reporters that for the PA, ending the Fatah-Hamas rift and achieving national unity was an important factor in “thwarting Israeli schemes” against the Palestinians. Such apparent concern for all Palestinians, including those in Gaza, has not been obvious on the ground, with the PA under Abbas imposing its own punitive measures against the people in the besieged enclave since April last year.

Talks between the Palestinian factions have stalled in recent months. Although Fatah and Hamas signed an agreement in Cairo last year in an attempt to advance reconciliation efforts and restore the PA’s governing authority in Gaza, they failed to make progress in the aftermath of US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Read: PA helped undermining 3,000 attacks against Israel, reports

Relations got worse following the attempted assassination of PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah during a trip to Gaza in March for which the PA blamed Hamas; the resistance movement denied the allegation. The three men identified by Hamas as suspects involved in the bombing were later killed in a shootout with its forces in Gaza on 22 March.

In recent weeks, the PA has condemned Hamas for conducting indirect talks with Israel on reaching a new truce agreement in the Gaza Strip, arguing that only the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) has the authority to negotiate with Israel as the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.

In a speech on Tuesday, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh accused the PA of hindering efforts to end the dispute. “Fatah’s demand that it assume control over everything in the Gaza Strip is making it difficult to achieve progress,” he explained, adding that the movement would not accept having to pay any political price for negotiating with Israel for an end to the blockade imposed on the enclave.

#GazaCrisis

The PA has threatened to sever security cooperation with Israel if the blockade on the Gaza Strip is lifted. It is seeking to exploit the situation to put pressure on Hamas into handing over control of the coastal territory.

“Hamas wants to take the Palestinian cause back to the humanitarian path, and this is precisely what Israel wants,” claimed Fatah spokesman Osama Qawassmeh in response to Haniyeh’s comments. “This constitutes an admission on the part of a Palestinian faction that the Palestinian cause is not about self-determination, freedom, a state, Jerusalem and refugees.”

The PA is currently battling against the US and Israel, as the Trump administration prepares to release the second edition of the “deal of the century”. Abbas has invited Middle East envoys, foreign ministers and UN Security Council diplomats to a meeting in New York next week, prior to the UN General Assembly, to discuss prospects for peace. It is an effort to garner support against the Trump peace plan, which is not believed to recognise a Palestinian state.

Read: ‘We are closer to Palestinian state than ever,’ claims Erekat

Mahmoud Abbas turns a blind eye on Gaza's blockade - Cartoon [Latuff/MiddleEastMonitor]

(Source / 20.09.2018)

Israel kills Palestinian teen, injures three others in Rafah

GAZA, PALESTINOW.COM — Israeli soldiers on Wednesday night killed a Palestinian teenager and wounded others as they were rallying in a border area to the east of Rafah in southern Gaza.

A Palestinian reporter said that the kid was critically injured in the head by Israeli gunfire and succumbed to his injury later.

Local sources identified the victim as 15-year-old Mu’men Abu Aiyada.

Three other young men also suffered bullet injuries during their participation in the protest, which was held against the Israeli occupation in Rafah last night.

(Source / 20.09.2018)

Israeli forces kidnapped Palestinian family in West Bank

The family members were violently beaten by the Israeli troops, who took them to an unknown place

Israeli occupation forces kidnapped on Thursday at dawn Palestinian man, his wife and his son in the Palestinian city of Al-Khalil in the south of the occupied West Bank.

An Israeli military unit, an eyewitness said, raided the house of the Palestinian citizen Jamal Karameh, inspected it and damaged much of its furniture.

The eyewitness said that the Israeli occupation kidnapped Karameh, his wife Hanaa and their son Jamil. They violently beat them and took them to an unknown place.

Israeli army frequently conducts sweeping kidnapping campaigns across the occupied West Bank on the pretext of searching for “wanted” Palestinians.

According to Palestinian figures, some 6,500 Palestinians are currently languishing in Israeli prisons, including scores of women, roughly 350 minors, and at least six members of the Palestinian Legislative Council.

(Source / 20.09.2018)

Army Injures Many Palestinians In Shu’fat Refugee Camp

20 SEP
3:20 PM

Israeli forces caused, Thursday, many Palestinians to suffer the effects of teargas inhalation, after dozens of soldiers invaded Shu’fat refugee camp, in occupied East Jerusalem, imposed fines on various stores and ticketed many cars, leading to protests.

Media sources said a large military force, accompanied by the police, invaded the refugee camp, and provocatively drove in its streets.

They added that the soldiers then issued fines against many stores in the refugee camp, while the police ticketed many cars.

Many youngsters protested the invasion and hurled stones at the invading soldiers, while the army fire many gas bombs, and rubber-coated steel bullets.

Medical sources said that many Palestinians suffered the effects of teargas inhalation, and received the needed treatment.

(Source /  20.09.2018)

Israeli Soldiers Kills A Child In Southern Gaza

20 SEP
5:42 AM

Israeli soldiers killed, on Wednesday night, a Palestinian child from Rafah, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip, and injured many Palestinians in several parts of the coastal region.

The Health Ministry in Gaza said the soldiers killed Mo’men Ibrahim Abu Eyada, 15, from Rafah, after shooting him with a live round in the head, east of the city.

According to Israeli Ynet News, the army said they “had no knowledge of any casualties or any live fire used by the soldiers,” and added that “only a very few officials were available for comments, because Israel was marking the Yom Kippur fast day.”

Furthermore, the soldiers fired dozens of live rounds, and high-velocity gas bombs, at Palestinian protesters near the perimeter fence, east of Deir al-Balah, in central Gaza, wounding six Palestinians with live fire, and causing many to suffer the effects of teargas inhalation.

The two Palestinians were rushed to the Al-Aqsa Hospital in Deir al-Balah, while the medics provided the needed treatment to scores of Palestinians who suffered the effects of teargas inhalation, in addition to various cuts and bruises.

In addition, the soldiers attacked many protesters on Palestinian lands near Kissufim military base, northeast of Khan Younis, in southern Gaza, moderate wounding eight after shooting them with live fire, and causing many to suffer the effects of teargas inhalation.

Also on Wednesday, the soldiers abducted two young Palestinian men after they crossed the perimeter fence, in southern Gaza, and moved them to an interrogation facility.

The army said dozens of Palestinians “breached the fence from several parts of the Gaza Strip, and managed to return to the coastal region.”

On Tuesday, the soldiers killed four Palestinians, at dawn and during evening hours, east of Khan Younis, and near Beit Hanoun (Erez) Terminal in northern Gaza, and injured dozens of residents with live fire, in addition firing many gas bombs and concussion grenades causing many to suffer the effects of teargas inhalation.

The slain Palestinians have been identified as Ahmad Mohammad Mohsin Omar, 20, from the al-Shati’ refugee camp in northern Gaza, Mohammad Ahmad Abu Naji, 34, from Jabalia in northern Gaza, in addition to Naji Jamil Abu ‘Aassi, 18, and Ala’ Ziad Abu ‘Aassi, 21, from Khan Younis.

The Health ministry in Gaza said Ahmad Omar and Mohammad Abu Naji, were killed on Tuesday evening, by Israeli army sharpshooters during a protest, against cutting UNRWA funding, near Eretz (Beit Hanoun) Crossing, in northern Gaza.

It added that Naji and Ala’ were killed at dawn, after an Israeli war jet fired a missile at them, east of Khan Younis.

Also on Tuesday, the soldiers killed Mohammad Yousef Sha’ban Oleyyan, 26, in the al-Misrara area, in occupied East Jerusalem, after he reportedly attempted to stab soldiers, and Mohammad Zaghloul al-Khatib, 24, was beaten to death by Israeli soldiers who invaded his home, in Beit Rima town northwest of Ramallah, in central West Bank, while he was sleeping at dawn.

(Source / 20.09.2018)