Hezbollah leader says it downed Israel drone to boost deterrence

Hassan Nasrallah said Lebanon and the Lebanese people reserve the right to defend the country against Israeli attacks. (File/AFP)
Updated 10 September 2019

Hezbollah leader says it downed Israel drone to boost deterrence

  • Hassan Nasrallah said Lebanon and the Lebanese people reserve the right to defend the country against Israeli attacks


BEIRUT: Hezbollah’s leader said on Tuesday his Iran-backed movement had shot down an Israeli drone in Lebanon for the first time to strengthen deterrence against attack by arch-foe Israel.
On Monday, Hezbollah said it downed and took possession of an Israeli drone in south Lebanon after a flare-up at the border with Israel around a week ago.
The brief exchange of cross-border fire between Hezbollah and Israel marked the fiercest shelling exchange since the long-time enemies fought a deadly month-long war in 2006.
“Despite all the threats and intimidation, today we are affirming the balance of power and reinforcing the deterrent force that protects our country,” Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said in a televised speech on Tuesday at a rally marking the Shiite Muslim ceremony of Ashura.
He added that there were no longer red lines that Hezbollah would not cross in defending Lebanon from Israeli aggression.
He said this does not mean UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which ended the 2006 war, would not be respected, but that Lebanon and its people had the right to self-defense.
The resolution banned all unauthorized weapons between the Litani River in south Lebanon and the UN-monitored frontier between Israel and Lebanon.
While the heavily-armed Hezbollah has largely kept its arms out of sight and pledged respect for resolution 1701, it retains a strong presence in the south where it enjoys wide support.
Lebanon’s government has long complained to the United Nations about regular Israeli military flights in its airspace in breach of 1701.
Tensions rose in late August when two drones crashed in a Beirut southern suburb, which Hezbollah blamed on Israel and vowed to retaliate. Nasrallah has since said the flare-up ended but had launched a “new phase” between the two sides.
President Michel Aoun said on Tuesday that Lebanon was committed to 1701, which he accused Israel of violating.
“Any escalation by (Israel) will cause the collapse of stability in the border area,” Aoun said on Twitter.
Nasrallah also said on Tuesday that the expanding US global campaign of sanctions against Iran and its allies, including Hezbollah, was a form of “aggression.”
Washington last month hit the Lebanese Jammal Trust Bank and its subsidiaries with sanctions, accusing it of ties with Hezbollah, which the bank denies.
This is part of a US push in recent years to choke off Hezbollah’s funding, alongside a slew of steps against Tehran since US President Donald Trump withdrew last year from a 2015 international nuclear deal with Iran.
Nasrallah said that when sanctions begin to hurt the Lebanese people, Hezbollah “should behave in a different way,” without elaborating.
“To extend this aggression to affect other people — to banks not owned by Hezbollah and which have no connection with them and to wealthy people or traders just because of their religious affiliation or political viewpoints — this needs a different approach,” he said. 


Amnesty slams Qatar tracing app for exposing data of a million users

Updated 53 min 41 sec ago

Amnesty slams Qatar tracing app for exposing data of a million users

  • Glitch made users’ ID numbers, location, infection status vulnerable to hackers
  • More than 47,000 of Qatar’s 2.75 million people have tested positive for

DOHA: A security flaw in Qatar’s controversial mandatory coronavirus contact tracing app exposed sensitive information of more than one million users, rights group Amnesty International warned Tuesday.
The glitch, which was fixed on Friday after being flagged by Amnesty a day earlier, made users’ ID numbers, location and infection status vulnerable to hackers.
Privacy concerns over the app, which became mandatory for residents and citizens on pain of prison from Friday, had already prompted a rare backlash and forced officials to offer reassurance and concessions.
Users and experts had criticized the array of permissions required to install the app including access to files on Android devices, as well as allowing the software to make unprompted phone calls.
Despite insisting the unprecedented access was necessary for the system to work, officials said they would address privacy concerns and issued reworked software over the weekend.
“Amnesty International’s Security Lab was able to access sensitive information, including people’s name, health status and the GPS coordinates of a user’s designated confinement location, as the central server did not have security measures in place to protect this data,” the rights group said in a statement.
“While Amnesty International recognizes the efforts and actions taken by the government of Qatar to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and the measures introduced to date, such as access to free health care, all measures must be in line with human rights standards.”
More than 47,000 of Qatar’s 2.75 million people have tested positive for the respiratory disease — 1.7 percent of the population — and 28 people have died.
Like other countries, Qatar has turned to mobiles to trace people’s movements and track who they come into contact with, allowing officials to monitor coronavirus infections and flag possible contagion.
“The Ehteraz app’s user privacy and platform security are of the utmost importance,” Qatar’s health ministry said in a statement on Tuesday.
“A comprehensive update of the app was rolled out on Sunday May 24 with expanded security and privacy features for all users.”
But Etheraz, which means “Precaution,” continues to allow real-time location tracking of users by authorities at any time, Amnesty said.
“It was a huge security weakness and a fundamental flaw in Qatar’s contact tracing app that malicious attackers could have easily exploited,” said Claudio Guarnieri, head of the group’s security lab.
“The Qatari authorities must reverse the decision to make use of the app mandatory,” he said.