After NSO bombing, Gantz says Israel respects international law
Responding to an in-depth investigation that found Israeli group NSO was selling spyware used by foreign governments to target journalists and activists, Defense Minister Benny Gantz said on Tuesday that Israel was operating fully within the law. international.
“We are aware of recent publications regarding the use of systems developed in some Israeli cyber companies,” Gantz said in a speech at Cyber Week at Tel Aviv University, not to mention the NSO group by its last name. “Israel, as a liberal Western democracy, controls exports of cyber products in accordance with its Defense Export Control Law, in accordance with international export control regimes. “
Gantz added that, “as a policy, the State of Israel allows the export of cyber products only to governments, only for lawful use and exclusively for the purposes of crime prevention and investigation. and terrorism. Countries acquiring these systems must respect their commitments to these requirements. We are currently studying the information that is published on the subject.
On Sunday, an in-depth investigation by 17 major international news organizations claimed that NSO Group had sold cellphone malware used to target journalists, activists and politicians in dozens of countries.
The report focused on Pegasus, spyware sold by NSO which the investigation found is used by dozens of government customers. Analysis of a leaked list of 50,000 phone numbers revealed that the list included people targeted by the governments of Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Morocco, Rwanda, Arabia. Arabia, Hungary, India and the United Arab Emirates.
The Guardian’s report on Pegasus claimed that Gantz “tightly regulates NSO” and approves each individual export license before the surveillance software is sold to a new country. In its response, NSO said that “you are falsely claiming that the Israeli government is monitoring the use of our customers’ systems, which is the type of conspiracy theory our detractors are peddling,” adding: “Regarding licensing export, NSO is subject to various control regimes, including the Israeli Defense Ministry, similar to existing regulations in other democratic countries.
In a statement released on Monday, the Defense Ministry said that if it finds that the NSO Group has violated the terms of its export licenses, it “will take appropriate action.” The ministry said Israel only allows companies to export cybersecurity products to “government figures only for legal purposes and to prevent and investigate crimes and fight terrorism.” And it depends on the commitments regarding the use / end user of the purchasing country, which must comply with these conditions. “
In his speech on Tuesday, Gantz also weighed in on a nighttime shootout between Israel and Lebanon.
“The State of Israel wishes to see a prosperous, peaceful and stable Lebanon,” said the Minister of Defense. “Unfortunately, the situation in Lebanon is worsening as Hezbollah and other terrorist organizations act against the interests of Lebanese citizens. We responded overnight to the rocket fire, which violated Israel’s sovereignty.
Gantz stressed that “the Lebanese state is responsible for this violation. Israel has extended a helping hand and offered humanitarian aid to Lebanon, but every security threat will be met with an iron fist from the same hand that has been extended. “
In his remarks, the defense minister said that Israel has become a leader in the field of cyberspace “thanks to the exceptional collaboration between the various institutions involved”, including the IDF, the Mossad and the National Cyberspace Directorate.
“Our enemies know no borders – just as they fire rockets at civilians, they aim to damage civilian facilities via cyberspace while endangering human lives,” he said. “Israel is constantly working to defend itself against cyber attacks. “