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Shin Bet to monitor social media to detect individual resistance plans

The Israeli intelligence services are currently working on intensifying their monitoring of social network sites used by Palestinians, especially the youth living in occupied Jerusalem. This is an effort to identify those who are willing and preparing to carry out individual resistance operations. According to Israel’s Yedioth Ahranoth newspaper, this task has fallen to the Shin Bet internal security agency.

The newspaper noted that the reason why Shin Bet is trying to thwart individual operations in this manner is because it cannot use the same methods used to prevent operations executed by cells associated with organised resistance. However, the security agency has admitted that the chances of being able to stop operations by individuals in this way are slim, unlike group operations, which require a lot of planning and interaction, often by telephone and thus are easier to monitor using the most advanced technology available.

The military commentator for Yedioth Ahronoth, Ron Ben-Yishai, revealed that the Israeli army and intelligence leaders are worried about the pressures put on the Palestinian Authority by local public opinion to stop security coordination with Israel. Such cooperation has allowed Israel to stop a number of resistance operations. He noted that ordinary Palestinians regard resistance in Jerusalem to be a “natural and necessary” response to the violations of Al-Aqsa Mosque by extreme right-wing Jewish groups. The suggestion is that this is responsible for a recent downturn in PA security agencies’ contacts with their Israeli counterparts.

Ben-Yishai pointed out that the Palestinian masses do not provide any cover for security cooperation with Israel; they think that the agents are spies for the Israelis because they try to hinder the work of the resistance against the occupation. The Israeli security agencies confirm that Palestinian public opinion has had a negative impact on the PA security services and their desire to halt the deterioration of the security situation in the occupied West Bank.

However, two former Shin Bet heads have said that using force will not end the resistance and that the solution lies in reaching a political agreement to end to the conflict.

In an article published by Israel’s right-wing newspaper Makor Rishon, Ami Ayalon, the director of Shin Bet between 1996 and 2000, said that the most important step that needs to be taken is to engage in serious negotiations that are conducted on the basis of Israel’s agreement to the establishment of a Palestinian state. He also warned that if the Palestinians have made no progress or achievements, this will push them to continue with their resistance.

Ayalon called for measures on the ground to raise the sense of personal security for settlers in occupied Jerusalem by deploying thousands of soldiers, police officers and intelligence agents in the city, as well as stationing guards at public facilities in order to reduce the attack capability of the Palestinians.

The director of Shin Bet from 2005 to 2012, Yuval Diskin, believes that the right-wing leadership of Israel is misguiding its citizens by claiming that an uprising and third intifada in Jerusalem can be stopped through intensifying the use of force. Speaking to Yedioth Ahronoth, Diskin said, “As the person who faced the first Intifada and Al-Aqsa Intifada, and as a man who has led operations and participated in wars, I say that the right-wing’s logic of using more force to confront the Palestinian resistance is unfounded.”

Translated from Al-Araby Al-Jadid, 24 November, 2014

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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