Clockwise: Public Security Minister Omer Barlev, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara and Justice Minister Gideon Sa'ar

Police minister says Pegasus only used in handful alleged spying instances

Barlev says police review found that only 3 out of 26 alleged cases of cops hacking into phones of civilians were true; PM appoints task force featuring Shin Bet and Mossad personnel to look into scandal

Yuval Karni, Liran Levi |
Published: 02.08.22, 22:36
Public Security Minister Omer Barlev said Tuesday evening that the powerful Pegasus spyware was only used against a handful of individuals out of over two dozen prominent Israeli figures whose phones were reportedly hacked by the police without authorization.
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  • Barlev said he was citing a police review of 26 instances alleged in a bombshell report by Calcalist, a Ynet sister publication, that claimed that cops have been secretly snooping on Israeli civilians — including journalists, political activists and even former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu's inner circle — without a court order. The minister said that "only three cases have been found to be true."
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    גלי בהרב מיארה, נפתלי בנט, גדעון סער, עומר ברלב
    גלי בהרב מיארה, נפתלי בנט, גדעון סער, עומר ברלב
    Clockwise: Public Security Minister Omer Barlev, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara and Justice Minister Gideon Sa'ar
    (Photo: Yariv Katz, AFP, the Justice Ministry, Knesset, Noam Moskowitz)
    The statement comes after Barlev met with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Justice Minister Gideon Sa'ar and newly-appointed Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara to discuss the spiraling scandal.
    After the meeting, Bennett's office said that he decided to appoint a task force featuring personnel from the Shin Bet and Mossad intelligence agencies that would help investigate allegations of police espionage.
    The move comes one day after Barlev, who oversees law enforcement in the government, announced on Twitter he was setting up a cabinet-level commission of inquiry, saying he won't allow "such failings on my watch."
    However, that level of scrutiny did not satisfy at least three of Barlev's cabinet colleagues who demanded an independent, extra-governmental commission of inquiry.
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    בנימין נתניהו
    בנימין נתניהו
    Opposition Leader Benjamin Netanyahu
    (Photo: Alex Kolomoisky)
    Distrust in law enforcement reached record highs in Israel after police top brass and Barlev himself outright denied the veracity of the reports for weeks before conceding that some unauthorized spying did take place.
    An incandescent Netanyahu also joined the call on Monday in a fiery Knesset speech in which he called the findings "a dark day for the State of Israel" and equated the alleged use of the military-grade spyware to the Israeli military blowing up civilians.
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