Police seeking use of Pegasus to hunt down Basmat Tab’un killers — report

Police are requesting permission to use extraordinary measures as they seek the shooter or shooters behind a quintuple murder in the town of Basmat Tab’un, according to Hebrew media reports.

That includes implementing the powerful Pegasus phone hacking program, developed by Israeli company NSO Group and widely pilloried for its use by abusive regimes around the world, Channel 12 news reports. Revelations that police had used the program in the past set off a firestorm of politically tinged criticism last year.

A commission into the police’s use of the program and other unnamed technologies determined that authorities must get permission from the attorney general before using such measures.

According to the Ynet news site, police chief Yaakov Shabtai is arguing to Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara that even the best investigators can’t reproduce the results of technological means, which appears to be an oblique reference to Pegasus.

National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir earlier called for police to be able to use administrative detention — holding suspects without charge for extended periods — in fighting the crime wave wracking the community as he headed to Basmat Tab’un. He blamed Baharav-Miara for “blocking” him, Channel 12 news reports.

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