US and UK have spied on Israeli army for 18 years


U.S. and British intelligence services have reportedly spied on Israel for 18 years after cracking its army’s encryption for communication between fighter jets, drones and army bases.

The information was reported Friday by The Intercept and the German newspaper Der Spiegel based on documents that came into the possession of Edward Snowden, the whistleblower who worked for U.S. intelligence before publishing classified material and fleeing to Russia.

Britain and the United States have reportedly used this access to monitor Israel Defense Forces operations in the Gaza Strip, watch for a potential strike on Iran and keep tabs on the drone technology that Israel exports.

Israel said later Friday it was disappointed but not surprised by the revelations.

“This is an earthquake,” an anonymous senior security source told Ynet. “It means that they have forcibly stripped us, and, no less important, that probably none of our encrypted systems are safe from them. This is the worst leak in the history of Israeli intelligence.”

According to the reports, the breaking of the drone encryption allowed Britain and the United States to view images and videos broadcast to Israel Defense Forces commands during drone operations in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and near the Jewish state’s northern border.

The tracking has been done from a Royal Air Force installation in the Troodos Mountains, near Mount Olympus, the highest point on the island of Cyprus.

The IDF encryption code was cracked as part of a major intelligence operation conducted by the U.S. National Security Agency, or NSA, and its British counterpart, the GCHQ, since 1998, according to Ynet.

In the photos leaked by Snowden, shots from video recordings taken by Israeli aircraft can been seen in detail, as well as slides prepared by members of the U.S. and British intelligence organizations explaining the significance of the findings.

“This access is indispensable for maintaining an understanding of Israeli military training and operations and thus an insight to possible future developments in the region,” The Intercept quoted a GCHQ report from 2008 as stating. “In times of crisis this access is critical and one of the only avenues to provide up to the minute information and support to U.S. and Allied operations in the area.”

That year, NSA analysts had “collected video for the first time from the cockpit of an Israeli Air Force F-16 fighter jet,” which “showed a target on the ground being tracked,” The Intercept reported.

Although Israeli drone strikes have been widely reported, officially the government refuses to confirm the use of armed drones.

100,000 sign petition calling for arrest of Netanyahu in Britain


A petition calling for the arrest of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when he visits Britain this week has reached more than 100,000 signatures and must be considered for debate in Parliament.

The online petition was uploaded on Aug. 7 to the United Kingdom Parliament’s official website.

“Under international law he should be arrested for war crimes upon arrival in the U.K. for the massacre of over 2000 civilians in 2014,” the petition says, citing Netanyahu’s visit scheduled for Thursday.

The petition had nearly 107,000 signatures as of Tuesday morning. It passed the 100,000 mark over the weekend.

Responding to the petition, the British government said that under U.K. and international law, the visiting heads of foreign governments, like Netanyahu, have immunity from the legal process, and cannot be arrested or detained.

“We recognize that the conflict in Gaza last year took a terrible toll,” the government said. “As the Prime Minister said, we were all deeply saddened by the violence and the U.K. has been at the forefront of international reconstruction efforts. However, the Prime Minister was clear on the U.K.’s recognition of Israel’s right to take proportionate action to defend itself, within the boundaries of international humanitarian law.”

The House of Commons has not set a date for a parliamentary debate on the petition.

On Monday, a group of union leaders, three British lawmakers and prominent activists published a letter in the The Guardian newspaper denouncing Netanyahu’s visit.

“Our prime minister should not be welcoming the man who presides over Israel’s occupation and its siege of Gaza,” the letter said, in part. “We call on him to instead impose immediate sanctions and an arms embargo on Israel until it complies with international law and ends the blockade and the occupation.”

Demonstrations and protests against Netanyahu are planned for London in advance of the visit, according to the Guardian.

The Board of Deputies of British Jews called for supporters to gather outside the Prime Minister’s Office at 10 Downing St. at 11 a.m. Wednesday to show support for Netanyahu and for the relationship between Britain and Israel.