UK, US intel reportedly spied on Israeli diplomats, army

UK, US intel reportedly spied on Israeli diplomats, army

Leaked papers indicate British agency snooped on Foreign Ministry’s second-highest official

Israel's Foreign Ministry building in Jerusalem. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Israel's Foreign Ministry building in Jerusalem. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

British and American intelligence spied on Israel’s diplomats and defense firms in addition to its military, the French daily Le Monde reported Wednesday based on leaked documents.

The report was based on material from Edward Snowden, the whistleblower who worked for US intelligence before publishing in 2013 classified material and fleeing to Russia.

According to the newspaper, Britain’s GCHQ intelligence-gathering apparatus collected information on a person described by Le Monde as the second-highest ranking official in the Israeli foreign ministry. That person was not named. The British also spied on the Palestinian Authority, the report said.

The paper reported that the GCHQ and NSA spied on Israeli diplomats at home and abroad, as well as private security companies, government bodies, and university research centers.

Email correspondence belonging to the Israeli ambassadors to Nigeria and Kenya were also the subject of British intelligence-gathering efforts, as was Ophir Optronics, a firm that specializes in fiber optics and is deemed to be tied to the Israeli defense establishment.

Former PA prime minister Ahmed Qurei and Joint List MK Ahmad Tibi were also among those spied upon.

The Le Monde report followed a previous publication based on documents stolen by Snowden dealing with spying by US and British intelligence on Israeli military aircraft.

GCHQ and its American counterpart, the NSA, had for 18 years intercepted drone transmissions after cracking the Israeli army’s encryption for communication among fighter jets, drones and army bases.

The information was reported in January by The Intercept and the German newspaper Der Spiegel.

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.

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