Facebook under fire for using Israelis from notorious unit to spy on users

Social media applications [Mehmet Ali Özcan - Anadolu Agency]
Social media applications, 7 April 2020 

Facebook has apparently been using a company founded by veterans of a secret cyber intel group within the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) to spy on users and destroy competition. Details have been reported by Haaretz, which cites the findings of a US lawsuit against the social media giant.

The scandal involves Israeli firm Onavo which was bought by Facebook in 2013. The suit filed by the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) a few days ago claims that Onavo’s technology played a central role in Facebook’s efforts to thwart its competitors.

Describing Onavo as a “user surveillance company”, the FTC claimed that Facebook used the Israeli firm to learn about rival apps and determine which could be a potential threat to be neutralised before they get too influential. Concerns have been raised about how Facebook went about this, and questions are being asked about online security and the unregulated manner in which data is being gathered.

According to Haaretz, in 2018 Apple removed Onavo Protect – a free “secure connection” app that people could use while using Facebook – from its online store. It was discovered that the Onavo app violated Apple’s privacy policy by collecting information about iPhone users and their online usage of apps that don’t belong to Facebook.

In the same year the British parliament published internal documents which showed that Facebook was monitoring users as a means of dealing with potential rivals. The documents included 200 pages of email correspondence dated 2012 to 2015 in which senior Facebook officials discussed how to conceal Onavo’s ability to gather information about unwitting users.

READ: Amnesty demands Israel prevent NSO from exporting spyware to rights abusers

Haaretz revealed that the owners of Onavo are veterans of the IDF’s cyber intel Unit 8200. A report in the Financial Times describes Unit 8200 as “a high-tech incubator that trains some of Israel’s smartest young people but effectively excludes minority Arabs — 20 per cent of Israel’s population — because so few do military service, which is compulsory for Jewish Israelis.”

Recruits to the unit “snoop on Palestinians living under Israeli occupation in the West Bank or naval and air blockade in the Gaza Strip.” The FT report also cited Israeli sources saying that members of the unit used “coercive spying tactics” on innocent Palestinians, for the collection of embarrassing sexual, financial or other information. Such tactics were compared to those of the Stasi secret police in East Germany. According to the FT, this came as a shock to whistle-blowers from the unit.

America’s TechCrunch newspaper reported today that Australia’s Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is suing Facebook over its use of Onavo in 2016 and 2017 to spy on users for commercial purposes. Commenting on the role played by the Israeli firm, ACCC chair Rod Sims said that, “Through Onavo Protect, Facebook was collecting and using the very detailed and valuable personal activity data of thousands of Australian consumers for its own commercial purposes, which we believe is completely contrary to the promise of protection, secrecy and privacy that was central to Facebook’s promotion of this app.”

READ: WhatsApp sues Israel’s NSO for allegedly helping spies hack phones around the world

Israel pass Facebook Bill which will authorise deleting content considered incitement - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]
Israel pass Facebook Bill which will authorise deleting content considered incitement – Cartoon

(Source / 16.12.2020)

Occupation Forces Detain Several Palestinians from the West Bank

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A number of Palestinian civilians, overnight Monday, were detained by Israeli forces in occupied East Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Hebron, Ramallah and al-Beireh, the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS) reported.

North of Hebron, in the southern West Bank, occupation forces detained civilians from the Al-‘Arroub refugee camp, identified as;

  • 1. Rabah Bilal Al-Fadilat, and
  • 2. Mohamed Jaber Abu Sal, 32.

From Al-‘Isawiya neighborhood in occupied East Jerusalem, soldiers detained the following;

  • 3. Muhammad Issa Badr,
  • 4. Muhammad Haitham Mustafa,
  • 5. Muhammad Musa Mustafa,
  • 6. Adam Fadi Mustafa,
  • 7. Rashid Darwish,
  • 8. Muhammad Yasser Al-Jayar, a minor, and his brother,
  • 9. Rawhi Al-Jayar,
  • 10. Mahmoud Sultan Darbas, and
  • 11. Muhammad Hamza Obaid, a minor.

From Hizmah town, seven miles from Jerusalem’s Old City, soldiers detained the mother and father of the slain Palestinian, Muhammad Kanaan, who was killed in 2017 by Israeli forces. The PPS added that;

  • 12. Najla Kanaan, and her husband
  • 13. Fathi Kanaan were detained and released by occupation troops.

In the Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem, central West Bank, Israeli troops detained;

  • 14. Hamza Abu Sorour, 26, and
  • 16. Muntaser Riyad Abu Sorour, 24.

In the central West Bank governorate of Ramallah and Al-Beireh the following Palestinian civilians were detained;

  • 17. Zakariya Al-Nahas, and
  • 18. Ibrahim Shamasna.

Important to note that the Israeli occupation forces detained a wounded Palestinian minor, late Monday evening. The injured child, Omar Ahmed Mahmoud, 17, on December 6, was shot in the face with a rubber-coated steel round by Israeli occupation soldiers.

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Omar Mahmoud
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Omar Mahmoud

(Source / 16.12.2020)

Israeli Colonists Install Tents On Palestinian Lands Near Hebron

A large group of fanatic Israeli colonists, illegally squatting on Palestinian lands, installed tents, Tuesday, in Jabal al-Jomjoma hill north of Hebron city, in the southern part of the occupied West Bank.

Eyewitnesses said dozens of colonists invaded the area, located in Jabal al-Jomjoma in Halhoul town, and installed the tent on the Palestinian lands while celebrating and playing music.

They added that the colonists are trying to establish a larger outpost in the area, in preparation to illegally occupy more privately owned Palestinian lands.

Last week, the colonists invaded the same area, and declared their intention to establish what they called “Maale Halhoul” outpost.

In late June of this year, the colonists invaded the area, accompanied by Israeli soldiers, in preparation to occupy the Palestinian lands.

(Source / 16.12.2020)

Israeli Tank Shell Destroys Palestinian Home In Central Gaza

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On Monday at night, December 14th, 2020, Israeli soldiers stationed in their military base across the perimeter fence along the eastern parts of the besieged Gaza Strip, fired a shell at a Palestinian home, in Juhr ad-Deek area, in central Gaza.

The shell caused excessive damage to the Palestinian home, but did not lead to casualties.

A family member said that he, and his mother, sleep in that home, but this time they were in his brother’s house, along with other family members, celebrating his wedding.

“It only by the grace of God that we were not hurt, that we were in my brother’s house, celebrating his wedding,” he said, “I always sleep in that room, but thank God, we survived this attack.”

It remains unknown why the soldiers fired the shell at the Palestinian home; the Israeli shell was fired the shell directly at the property. The army claimed the shell was fired “by accident,” and alleged that it “initiated an investigation” into the issue.

The family denied the Israeli allegations, and said that the soldiers are frequently present in the area, due to its close proximity to the perimeter fence.

“They always see us, see our home, and we see them, there is no way this shell was accidentally fired, especially since it targeted the center of the property,” he added, “It is not an accident; they see us there every day and night. They see us at night with our flashlights checking on our livestock. They know we are here; they see the house.”

It is worth mentioning that, during the 2008 Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip; the army targeted the home with missiles and shells, and the family later rebuilt it.about:blankFacebook URL

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(Source / 16.12.2020)

Another Palestinian Detainee Diagnosed With Covid-19

The Palestinian Commission of Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs has confirmed that another Palestinian detainee, held by Israel, has contracted the coronavirus.

The Commission stated that the detainee has been identified as Ahmad Abu Seriyya, from Jenin refugee camp, in the northern West Bank city of Jenin.

It added that the detainee was abducted by the soldiers earlier this month, and is held at the Huwwara detention facility and military base, south of Nablus, in northern West Bank.

The Commission also said that the number of Palestinian detainees who have the coronavirus in Israel’s prisons has reached 138.

It is worth mentioning that Abu Seriyya is a former political prisoner who spent nine years in Israeli prisons, detention, and interrogation facilities.

The detainee is scheduled to have a court hearing today, but it remains unknown if it will take place.

Israel is currently holding captive more than 4400 Palestinians, including 155 children, 39 women, 6 elected legislators, 13 journalists, and 350 who are held under the arbitrary Administrative Detention orders, without charges or trial.

Among the detainees are 700 patients, many of them suffering from serious illnesses, including cancer, liver, and heart conditions.


Palestinian Detainee Contracts Coronavirus In Etzion Interrogation Facility

(Source / 16.12.2020)

Soldiers Abduct Ten Palestinians, Confiscate Two Tractors, In West Bank

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Israeli soldiers abducted, on Wednesday at dawn, at least ten Palestinians, including two children, from their homes, and confiscated two tractors, in several parts of the occupied West Bank.

The soldiers invaded and violently searched many homes and interrogated the Palestinians while inspecting their ID cards.

Media sources said the soldiers invaded several areas in the northern West Bank city of Nablus, before abducting Hamad Abu Jamous, Mahdi Abu Seer, and Emad al-Bath.

The invasions into Nablus targeted ‘Aseeda Street, at-Teety Bridge, Rafidia, al-Jabal ash-Shamali, the Old City, the al-Ein refugee camp, in addition to the villages of Deir Sharaf, Tal, Einabus and Zawata.

Furthermore, the soldiers abducted a former political prisoner, who was held by Israel for more than 10 years, identified as Nidal Yacoub Enfei’at, from his home in Ya’bad town, west of Jenin, in northern West Bank.

The soldiers also invaded Beit Za’na area, east of Beit Ummar town, north of the southern West Bank city of Hebron, before storming homes and violently searching them causing serious damage, and abducted Mohammad Zohdi Awad, 16, along with his brother, Sharif, 15.

In related news, the soldiers abducted Mohammad Sobhi Hamdan, 24, from his home in Doura al-Qare’ town, north of the central West Bank city of Ramallah.

In Salfit, in central West Bank, the soldiers abducted Ahmad Mer’ey, 23, Bara’ Saed ‘Aassi, 24, and Mustafa Yacoub ‘Aassi, 21, from their homes in Qarawat Bani Hassan town, northwest of the city.

In Jericho, in northeastern West Bank, the soldiers invaded the Zbeidat village, north of the city, before confiscating two tractors, owned by Fadi Abdullah Zbeidat and Mansour Hasan Zbeidat.

(Source / 16.12.2020)

Tunisian PM: Normalization with Israel “not on the agenda”

Following Morocco’s normalization deal with ‘Israel’, Tunisian Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi said Tunisia has no plans to normalize ties with ‘Israel’, insisting that establishing such relations was “not on the agenda.”

“We respect Morocco’s choice, Morocco is a sister country that we love very much,” Mechichi told France 24 broadcaster in an interview late Monday.

He added, “for Tunisia, the question is not on the agenda.”

“Every country has its own reality, its own truth and its own diplomacy, which it considers best for its people,” Mechichi said.

Last week, Morocco became the fourth Arab country to normalize ties with ‘Israel’ since August, following the UAE, Bahrain and Sudan.

(Source / 16.12.2020)

Indonesia denies normalization with Israel

Teuku Faizasyah, the Indonesian Foreign Ministry spokesman has denied Israeli media claims of Indonesia seeking to normalize ties with ‘Israel.’

The Jerusalem Post newspaper quoted by diplomatic sources that Oman and Indonesia may be the next in establishing diplomatic relations with Israel in the coming weeks.

“Oman and Indonesia could be next in line to establish diplomatic relations with Israel in the coming weeks,” The Jerusalem Post reported.

Describing such news as confusing, Faizasyah said, “There are two things that I would like to say. First, the Foreign Affairs Ministry has never been in contact with Israel. Secondly, when it comes to running foreign policy, the Foreign Affairs Ministry is still consistent with Palestine in accordance with the mandate of the constitution.”

He added, “We are bound by the constitution to support the Palestinians and liberate them from occupation.”

Indonesia is one of the world’s largest Muslim-majority country, and has been a staunch supporter of the Palestinian cause.

(Source / 16.12.2020)

Watchdog: Over 3300 Palestinians arrested during COVID-19 pandemic

Ramallah (QNN)- The Palestinian Prisoners Association said Israeli forces have arrested over 3300 Palestinians since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March. the arrests included women, children, elderlies, patients, and wounded Palestinians.

In a statement issued today, the association added that the occupation state is using the pandemic as a repression tool against prisoners; although of the increase in COVID-19 patients inside Israeli jails, Israeli authorities continued its daily arrests policy.

It also stated that the highest rate of arrests was in June with 469 arrests. Meanwhile, 140 COVID-19 cases have been registered since April.

In the same context, Israeli measures caused COVID-19 cases to rise among prisoners. There are concerns that more cases could have been registered during November.

The statement called for an objective international medical committee to monitor the conditions inside Israeli jails and make sure that all measures are taken to prevent the spread of the virus and protect Palestinian prisoners.

(Source / 16.12.2020)

Indonesia denies claims of normalization with ‘Israel’

Jakarta (QNN)- Indonesia, on Tuesday, denied reports issued by the Israeli media that it is conducting talks at an advanced stage to establish diplomatic relations with the occupation state of Israel.

Indonesia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry’s spokesman Teuku Faizasyah denied the Israeli claims, saying they have never communicated with the occupation state nor changing their position in the Palestinian issue.

“There are two things that I would like to say. First, the Foreign Affairs Ministry has never been in contact with Israel. Secondly, when it comes to running foreign policy, the Foreign Affairs Ministry is still consistent with Palestine in accordance with the mandate of the constitution,” Teuku said in Jakarta on Monday.

The Jerusalem Post newspaper had quoted by diplomatic sources that Oman and Indonesia may be the next two countries that will establish diplomatic relations with the occupation state in the coming weeks.

“Discussions have developed with Indonesia, and the normalization relations with Israel may be announced before the US President Donald Trump leaves the White House on January 20,” The Jerusalem Post claimed.

Indonesia often reiterates its support for Palestine during international meetings.

At the United Nations (UN) General Assembly in September, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo expressed Indonesia’s unceasing support for Palestine. The president highlighted how Palestine is the only participant of the 1955 Bandung Conference — a world summit on world peace attended by 29 Asian and African nations — who has not reached independence.

In June, Indonesia, along with Tunisia and South Africa, initiated a ministerial-level UN Security Council meeting to discuss Israel’s annexation plan over the West Bank. At the meeting, Indonesia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Retno Marsudi called the international community to oppose Israel’s plan as it violates the international laws and threatens the future of the Palestinian people.

“Injustice happens not because of the absence of justice. Injustice happens because we allow it to happen. It’s time we stop the injustice,” Retno said, as quoted by the ministry’s official website.

(Source / 16.12.2020)