The phones of six Palestinian human rights activists and officials were hacked using spyware from the Israeli surveillance company NSO Group, according to a report disclosed on Monday by security researchers.
Irish-based non-profit Frontline Defenders reported its findings in a joint technical report together with Amnesty International and the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab on Monday, independently confirming the results.
— Brad Parker (@baparkr) November 8, 2021
A number of Palestinian Foreign Ministry employees, whose identities have not yet been revealed, were also hacked by the Israeli spyware, the New Arab’s Arabic-language service Al-Araby Al-Jadeed reported.
Al-Haq Foundation revealed exclusively to Al-Araby Al-Jadeed that it discovered on October 16 that one of its employees, field researcher Ghassan Halaika, had his device hacked by the Pegasus program.
This prompted the Al-Haq to investigate and communicate with other Palestinian institutions targeted by Israel, and to examine some of its employees’ smartphones, especially those who used an iPhone.
— The Palestine Chronicle (@PalestineChron) November 5, 2021
Frontline Defenders considers Israel the main suspect behind the hacks. The first two intrusions were identified shortly after Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz declared the six Palestinian civil society groups as “terrorist” organizations.
Pegasus spyware is notorious for being used against journalists, rights activists and political dissidents from Mexico to Saudi Arabia has been documented since 2015.
On November 3, the United States Commerce Department decided to add Israel’s NSO Group and Candiru to its trade blacklist.
(The New Arab, PC, Social Media)