“You don’t need vast state apparatus, you don’t need the foreign intelligence services of superpowers, you don’t need anything,” the prime minister said, while delivering remarks at the first ever International Forum for Public Security Ministers and the War against Terrorism.
“You need this $50 contraption and 5 kilos of TNT attached to it” to reach to the White House, Netanyahu explained at the conference held in the Orient Jerusalem Hotel on the capital’s popular Emek Refa'im street.
“This distribution of technology has immense consequences that I think are not obviously understood. We’re working on it right now,” he said, delivering his speech first in English and then in Hebrew.
“We have to think of how we can harness technology against this technology. We’re doing that in Israel, we’re developing this. I cannot tell you that we have solved this but I think that we could join hands as best as we can to try to address this challenge,” he stated optimistically, while warning of the gravity of the drone threat.
“It is huge. It is huge. And precisely because it is so small, it’s so huge. It’s a big one,” Netanyahu said, before moving onto the threat of cyber security and Israel’s contribution in the field.
“Israel now accounts for 20 per cent of the global private investment in cybersecurity. That’s a lot, because given that we’re one tenth of one per cent of the world’s population, that’s 200 times our weight in the global population and we’re second only to the United States on this,” the prime minister boasted as he displayed on a PowerPoint presentation the Be’er Sheva Cyber Security Complex.
Despite the myriad security challenges facing the Jewish state, Netanyahu said that the country had struck an appropriate and delicate balance of simultaneously maintaining security and civil liberties.
“I think few countries, if any, have been challenged continuously like us by war, by terror, by outright calls for our extermination, and yet there wasn’t a day, not an hour, not a moment or a second where Israel’s democracy was ever questioned,” he said.
“We maintained it rigorously by maintaining the twin poles of security and civil rights … security first, balance always,” he continued.
Turning to the issue of social media, the prime minister praised the benefits that have bloomed from the 20th century phenomenon, including enhanced international communication and its contribution to the overthrow of dictatorial regimes. However, he also highlighted the negative ramifications and the impact on terrorism.
“It’s also a way to inspire hate and violence and extremism. Radical Islam is using it in obvious ways and they’re not the only ones,” he said.
That said, he reiterated that Israel was developing algorithms and meshing technological solutions with police and IDF field experience to clamp down on terror-related threats emanating from social media, while facing the challenge “in the balance of having security and civil rights.”
Netanyahu then presented a map of the Middle East that he called “the red and the black”, with various ISIS-controlled countries colored in red and Iran-controlled countries colored in black.
“We have done more than any other country actually to foil terrorist attack from Daesh (ISIS) from a variety of countries because the parks of this inflammation go to every continent from Australia to South America and everything in between. And Israel has stopped dozens and dozens and dozens of terrorist attacks from ISIS,” he said.
Netanyahu accused Iran, which has been helping Damascus beat back a seven-year-old rebellion, of bringing in 80,000 Shi'ite fighters from countries like Pakistan and Afghanistan to mount attacks against Israel and "convert" Syria's Sunni majority.
"That is a recipe for a re-inflammation of another civil war—I should say a theological war, a religious war—and the sparks of that could be millions more that go into Europe and so on ... And that would cause endless upheaval and terrorism in many, many countries," Netanyahu said.
"Obviously we are not going to let them do it. We'll fight them. By preventing that—and we have bombed the bases of this, these Shi'ite militias—by preventing that, we are also offering, helping the security of your countries, the security of the world."
Netanyahu did not elaborate. About half Syria's pre-war 22 million population has been displaced by the fighting, with hundreds of thousands of refugees making it to Europe.
Reuters contributed to this report.