Britain's Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer hired a former Israel spy to work in his social media team, The Electronic Intifada has revealed. Assaf Kaplan was hired as a "social media listener", and worked formerly for the infamous 8200 cyber unit of the Israeli intelligence services. In a profile of Kaplan on an ex-employer's website, he is described as a "Unit 8200 veteran".
"Assaf Kaplan will work in the office of Labour leader Keir Starmer, a source with knowledge of the hire said."
— Azad Ali (@azadaliCCM) January 19, 2021
Unit 8200 specialises in cyber intelligence, and is known for its role in blackmailing and assassinating Palestinians, as revealed in a shocking Guardian report in 2014. Another former Unit 8200 officer revealed anonymously the extent of the activities undertaken by the unit, some of which resulted in the killing of an innocent child in the Gaza Strip. Operatives also used sexual preferences to blackmail Palestinians into becoming collaborators with the Israeli occupation authorities.
"Once when I was the unit representative, there was someone suspicious next to a weapons warehouse in Gaza and we thought he was our target," explained the anonymous source. "It had taken us a long time to find him. Judging by his location, the time and similar data, we concluded it was him. After we assassinated him it turned out that he was a kid… I remember an image on the screen of him in an orchard, and the explosion on the screen, the smoke clearing and his mother running to him, at which point we could see he was a child. The body was small. We realised we had screwed up."
Another pointed out that "any Palestinian" may be targeted and may suffer from sanctions such as the denial of permits, harassment, extortion or even direct physical injury. "Such instances might occur if the individual is of any interest to the system for any reason. Be it indirect relations with hostile individuals, physical proximity to intelligence targets, or connections to topics that interest 8200 as a technological unit." Any information that might enable "extortion" of an individual is considered relevant information by the 8200 team. "Whether said individual is of a certain sexual orientation, cheating on his wife or in need of treatment in Israel or the West Bank, he is a target for blackmail."
Kaplan was also involved in the latest General Election in Israel, working for Israeli Labor as deputy head of campaigns. The party suffered a catastrophic collapse in its share of the vote, and there are now rumours that it will be wiped out completely in the upcoming election in March.
Although some Twitter users have pointed out that Israeli citizens are subject to mandatory conscription into the Israeli army, the duration of national service is only two and a half years. Kaplan apparently served in Israeli intelligence for nearly five years, twice the normal conscription period. Other Twitter users have said that Kaplan is being singled out simply because he is an Israeli citizen, and that if it was any other intelligence service there wouldn't be any problem.