Israel probes alleged Pegasus use to spy on citizens

Israel probes alleged Pegasus use to spy on citizens
Pegasus is a surveillance product made by the Israeli firm NSO that can turn a mobile phone into a pocket spying device. (AFP)
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Updated 19 January 2022

Israel probes alleged Pegasus use to spy on citizens

Israel probes alleged Pegasus use to spy on citizens
  • Pegasus is a surveillance product made by the Israeli firm NSO that can turn a mobile phone into a pocket spying device

JERUSALEM: Israel’s justice minister on Wednesday pledged a full investigation into allegations that the controversial Pegasus spyware was used on Israeli citizens, including people who led protests against former premier Benjamin Netanyahu.
Pegasus, a surveillance product made by the Israeli firm NSO that can turn a mobile phone into a pocket spying device, has remained a source of global controversy following revelations last year it was used to spy on journalists and dissidents worldwide.
The Hebrew-language business daily Calcalist has reported that Pegasus was also used by police on citizens at the forefront of protests against Netanyahu last year, when he was still prime minister, as well as other Israelis.
Israeli police have firmly denied the report.
Public Security Minister Omar Barlev, a Netanyahu critic who took office as part of a new government that ousted Netanyahu in June, offered a more nuanced defense.
There was “no practice of wire-tapping or hacking devices by police without a judge’s approval,” he said.
Israeli security forces have wide leeway to conduct surveillance within Israel with judicial approval.
Following the Calcalist report, the justice ministry and State Comptroller’s office both said they were looking into the reports.
The Privacy Protection Authority, a division of the ministry, said use of Pegasus to monitor Israeli citizens” would constitute a “serious violation of privacy,” announcing its investigation.
State Comptroller Matanyahu Englman said Tuesday he would expand his ongoing investigation into law enforcement’s use of surveillance technology to include the latest Pegasus allegations.
He would in particular probe “the balance” between the “usefulness” of surveillance tools in investigations and “violations of the right to privacy.”
Justice Minister Gideon Saar, another Netanyahu rival, told parliament Wednesday that he fully backed the probes.
“There is a huge difference between the claims in the Calcalist article and the police statements,” Saar told the law committee in Israel’s parliament, the Knesset.
“It’s good that the state comptroller, who is an independent body, took upon himself to examine the issue,” Saar said.
“In the (justice) ministry we were not aware of any activity without a court order. It is good that these things will be examined, and the public will receive the conclusions.”
Israel’s defense ministry, which must approve all exports of Israeli-made defense industry products, has also opened an investigation into sales of Pegasus overseas.


Turkish minister aims to boost Palestinian economy in rare West Bank trip

Turkish minister aims to boost Palestinian economy in rare West Bank trip
Updated 5 sec ago

Turkish minister aims to boost Palestinian economy in rare West Bank trip

Turkish minister aims to boost Palestinian economy in rare West Bank trip
RAMALLAH, Palestinian Territories: Turkey’s top diplomat announced Tuesday a raft of new agreements to bolster the struggling Palestinian economy, during the first high-level Turkish visit to the Israeli-occupied West Bank in 15 years.
During Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu’s trip to Ramallah, Turkey signed nine new pacts with the embattled Palestinian Authority, ranging from agriculture to education and trade.
Cavusoglu will meet Israeli officials on Wednesday, the latest step in a diplomatic thaw between Ankara and the Jewish state. He will also make a private visit to the Al-Asqa mosque compound in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem.
Alongside his Palestinian counterpart Riyad Al-Maliki, Cavusoglu pledged to push ahead with plans for the construction of an industrial zone in the Palestinian territories.
“The necessary order has been given; there is no luxury for evading and delaying this project,” he said, also setting a $2 billion annual bilateral trade target and pledging more scholarships with Palestinians to study in Turkey.
The World Bank warned this month that the Palestinian economy was in a “precarious” state, with the cash-strapped Palestinian Authority — a major West Bank employer — only paying partial wages since November.
Maliki described Cavusoglu’s visit as “historic” and reflecting the “special relationship between the two countries.”
Turkey has long been a vocal supporter of the Palestinian cause, but visits to the West Bank had been obstructed by a 15-year diplomatic rupture between Ankara and Israel.
Israel and Turkey proclaimed a new era in relations following President Isaac Herzog’s visit to Ankara and Istanbul in March.
Cavusoglu’s Ramallah visit came as fresh violence rocked the West Bank flashpoint of Jenin.
Israel’s army said a shootout erupted between troops and Palestinians during the latest in a series of operations in the Jenin area, with a man suspected of “terrorist activity” arrested.
Three Palestinians were wounded, according to the Palestinian health ministry.

US sanctions Hamas official and financial network, Treasury Dept. says

US sanctions Hamas official and financial network, Treasury Dept. says
Updated 1 min 51 sec ago

US sanctions Hamas official and financial network, Treasury Dept. says

US sanctions Hamas official and financial network, Treasury Dept. says

WASHINGTON: The United States on Tuesday imposed sanctions on a Hamas finance official and a network of financial facilitators and companies that have generated revenue for the Palestinian militant group, the Treasury Department said.
The sanctions target Hamas’ Investment Office, which holds assets estimated to be worth more than $500 million.
“Hamas has generated vast sums of revenue through its secret investment portfolio while destabilizing Gaza, which is facing harsh living and economic conditions,” said Elizabeth Rosenberg, Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorist Financing and Financial Crimes.
There was no immediate comment from Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip and is deemed a terrorist group in the West and by Israel.
The Hamas official sanctioned is Abdallah Yusuf Faisal Sabri, a Jordanian national and accountant who has worked in Hamas’ finance ministry for several years, the Treasury Department said.


Three Turkish soldiers killed in Iraq

Three Turkish soldiers killed in Iraq
Updated 24 May 2022

Three Turkish soldiers killed in Iraq

Three Turkish soldiers killed in Iraq
  • Another four soldiers were wounded during fighting, said the ministry statement, which did not say where the clash took place
  • Turkey's official news agency Anadolu said the Turkish soldiers had clashed with fighters from the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK)

ISTANBUL: Three Turkish soldiers serving in northern Iraq as part of operations against Kurdish militants were killed Tuesday, the defense ministry announced.
Another four soldiers were wounded during fighting, said the ministry statement, which did not say where the clash took place.
Turkey’s official news agency Anadolu said the Turkish soldiers had clashed with fighters from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which Ankara and its western allies say is a terrorist organization.
The PKK has training camps and bases in autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan and has been waging an insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984, a conflict that has killed 40,000 people, many of them civilians.
Ankara has launched a series of operations against PKK fighters in Iraq and Syria, the latest one in northern Iraq beginning in April.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday that Turkey would soon launch a new military operation into northern Syria which he said was designed to create a 30-kilometer (19-mile) “security zone” along their border.
Since 2016, Turkey has also launched three offensives into northern Syria against the People’s Protection Units (YPG), a Syrian-Kurdish group it considers to be part of the PKK.
Turkey wants to use these security zones to keep Kurdish militants at a safe distance — and to house some of the 3.7 million Syrian refugees currently sheltering inside its own borders.


COP27 will launch plans to fulfill climate pledges: Egypt FM

COP27 will launch plans to fulfill climate pledges: Egypt FM
Updated 24 May 2022

COP27 will launch plans to fulfill climate pledges: Egypt FM

COP27 will launch plans to fulfill climate pledges: Egypt FM
  • Sameh Shoukry is Egypt’s foreign minister and designated president of the summit at the World Economic Forum in Davos

CAIRO: COP27 will witness the launch of initiatives in partnership with various parties with the aim of fulfilling climate pledges, Egypt’s foreign minister and designated president of the summit said at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Sameh Shoukry said Egypt’s vision for COP27, which the country will host in November, is based on the need to focus on effective and rapid implementation of countries’ climate pledges in a way that maintains the goal of reducing global temperatures by 1.5 degrees Celsius.

“This vision also includes the importance that international climate action be based on the latest scientific facts and data regarding the phenomenon of climate change away from any politicization, as well as the need to work with all parties and partners concerned with climate action, including the private sector, which plays an important role in this regard along with governments,” he added.


Omani receives Italy’s highest civilian honor

Omani receives Italy’s highest civilian honor
Updated 24 May 2022

Omani receives Italy’s highest civilian honor

Omani receives Italy’s highest civilian honor
  • Award given to National Museum chief Jamal Hassan Al-Musawi

LONDON: Jamal Hassan Al-Musawi, secretary-general of Oman’s National Museum, has received the Star of Italy, the country’s highest civilian award.

President Sergio Mattarella bestowed the award via Italy’s Ambassador to Oman Federica Favi at a ceremony in Muscat.

Al-Musawi was recognized for his work in enhancing relations between the two countries, having collaborated with Italian experts on projects since 2011.

He told the Omani News Agency: “We benefited from recruiting Italian experts in the foundational phase of the National Museum, to contribute to restoring elements of the cultural heritage of Oman.”