Israeli police used a controversial spyware system to hack into cellphones of a long list of public figures, ranging from government ministry chiefs to prominent businessmen, relatives of politicians, protesters, and residents of outpost communities in Judea and Samaria, according to a report released Monday morning.
The report, published by Calcalist, cited a list it had obtained of targets whose devices were hacked by police using the NSO Group’s ‘Pegasus’ spyware.
Among those targeted by police with the Pegasus spyware were directors-general of a number of government ministries, including Keren Turner, who served as chief of the Transportation Ministry; Shai Babad, former director-general of the Finance Ministry; and Emi Palmor, former Justice Ministry director-general.
Other targets included activists from a variety of protest movements, including groups advocating for increased government benefits for the disabled and activists from the Ethiopian community.
The mayors of Netanya, Mevaseret Tzion, Kiryat Ata, and Holon were also caught up in the spyware dragnet, the report said, as was supermarket tycoon Rami Levy.
Furthermore, a number of businessmen, journalists, and former government officials involved in the Case 4000 investigation against Netanyahu were targeted by police hacking efforts, including Shlomo Filber, the former director-general of the Communications Ministry and confidant of then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Avi Berger, who also served in the past as director-general of the Communications Ministry.
Bezeq CEOs Stella Hendler and Dudu Mizrahi were also targeted, along with a number of journalists from Walla, including ex-Walla editor-in-chief Aviram Elad.
Relatives and advisors of former Prime Minister Netanyahu are also said to have been targets of the spyware, including Netanyahu’s son, Avner, and aides Topaz Luk and Yonatan Urich.
Yair Katz, chairman of the workers union at Israel Aerospace Industries and the son of Likud MK Haim Katz was also reportedly targeted.
According to Monday’s report, the hacks were carried out without warrants, and the information collected was forwarded to investigators, with no disclosures regarding the means used to obtain the information.
In response to the revelations, a spokesperson for Israel Police said the police department is cooperating with a probe of the issue being carried out by the Attorney General's office.