Coalition party demands answers from Gantz on NSO spyware

Head of left-wing Meretz, Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz, to meet with defense minister this week, with fellow lawmaker calling on Israel to halt company's exports, likening it to 'exporting weaponry'

Health Minister and Meretz leader Nitzan Horowitz said on Monday his party would ask the Defence Ministry about exports of Israeli spyware that media reports have linked to the hacking of phones of journalists, civil servants and rights activists worldwide.
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  • Horowitz told reporters he would meet Defence Minister Benny Gantz on Thursday to discuss the exports by NSO Group.
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    ניצן הורוביץ בני גנץ ביקור במאהל בדיקות קורונה נתב"ג
    ניצן הורוביץ בני גנץ ביקור במאהל בדיקות קורונה נתב"ג
    Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz and Defense Minister Benny Gantz at Ben-Gurion Airport last week
    (Photo: Tal Shahar)
    The Defence Ministry, which licenses the exports, said it did not have access to information gathered by NSO's clients.
    Israel "approves the export of cyber products exclusively to governmental entities, for lawful use, and only for the purpose of preventing and investigating crime and counter-terrorism," it said.
    An investigation by 17 media organizations published on Sunday said NSO's spyware was used in attempted and successful hacks of 37 smartphones belonging to journalists, government officials and rights activists. Reuters was not able to verify the accusations independently. read more
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    NSO offices
    NSO offices
    NSO offices
    (Photo: Orel Cohen)
    NSO has denied what it called "the false allegations" raised by the media organizations and said it sells technology only to law enforcement and intelligence agencies of vetted governments in order to fight terrorism and crime.
    Speaking during a televised Meretz faction meeting, lawmaker Mossi Raz called on the party to demand that Israel halt NSO exports, which he likened to "exporting weaponry, which is forbidden to non-democratic countries".
    But another Meretz lawmaker, former IDF deputy chief Yair Golan, was more circumspect, saying the reporting on NSO "looks tendentious, with a commercial motivation" and adding: "It is not just NSO that does such things."
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