Netanyahu turns surveillance powers on Israelis

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announces emergency directives during a press conference at the Prime Ministers Office in Jerusalem, March 12, 2020. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announces emergency directives during a press conference at the Prime Ministers Office in Jerusalem, March 12, 2020. (photo: Olivier Fitoussi / Flash90)
As part of his ‘war’ on the outbreak, Netanyahu delays his long-awaited trial and announces the mass surveillance of Israelis infected by coronavirus.

By Edo Konrad | +972 Magazine |  Mar 15, 2020

From drones, to Facebook hacking, to biometric facial recognition, to blackmailing Palestinians with private information, to profiling potential Palestinian attackers using algorithms, surveillance is an essential component in the effort to turn Palestinians into obedient subjects of military dictatorship.

Standing at the podium in the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem Saturday night, a grave-looking Benjamin Netanyahu declared Israel was in a state of emergency. The prime minister, who did not field questions from reporters, announced he would be ramming through a series of emergency directives, including the mass surveillance of Israeli citizens, as part of the fight against the coronavirus outbreak in the country.

Netanyahu stated that as part of the “war against an invisible enemy” — which has already infected over 200 Israeli citizens and nearly 40 Palestinians — he would be implementing “technological means” previously used in the “fight against terrorism” to monitor the movement of those who have tested positive for the virus, most likely by actively tracking citizens through geolocating their cellphones and credit cards.

The move, which was quickly approved by Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, means Israel has officially joined the ranks of China and Iran in using intelligence-gathering tools to track its own population. By Sunday evening, the Israeli government approved measures that would allow the Shin Bet to monitor Israelis who have been infected.

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