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British spies: Israel ‘true threat’ to Middle East security

December 8, 2016 at 12:24 pm

Image of GCHQ, one the three UK Intelligence Agencies [Defence Images/Flickr]

British intelligence labelled Israel as a “true threat” to the security of the Middle East, according to newly-leaked documents.

The revelations were reported by French newspaper Le Monde yesterday, based on top secret documents obtained by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

In one such document from 2009, British intelligence-gathering agency GCHQ stated: “The Israelis constitute a true threat to regional security, notably because of the country’s position on the Iran issue.”

According to Le Monde, the covert British agency spied on Israeli and Palestinian diplomats, including an unnamed individual described as the second-highest ranking official in Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The paper also reported that GCHQ tapped the phones of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and his two sons, shortly before Israel launched “Operation Cast Lead” in December 2008. Le Monde suggested that the interceptions could have helped Israel prepare for the offensive.

Other targets of GCHQ included email correspondence of Israeli ambassadors in Nigeria and Kenya, Ophir Optronics, an Israeli company deemed close to Israel’s defence establishment, and Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Racah Institute of Physics.

Britain also monitored communications, from end of 2008 through 2009, of Palestinian delegations in France, Belgium, Portugal, Pakistan, South Africa, Malaysia, and elsewhere, of Arab Member of the Knesset Ahmed Tibi, and former Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei.