Inform or else: how Israel recruits Palestinians

Inform or else: how Israel recruits Palestinians
Israeli intelligence spies on the electronic communications of ordinary Palestinians and uses the information to recruit them as informers or for "one-time operations".
2 min read
15 May, 2015
Unit 8200 collects personal information about Palestinians [Getty]

A Palestinian man has said Israeli spies recorded his personal phone conversations and threatened to release them unless he helped police arrest his friend.

Ayad, who withheld his full name, told al-Araby al-Jadeed that he was arrested by Israeli police and threatened with blackmail after he refused to become an informant. 

"They arrested me and told me to save my friend from being assassinated by helping them arrest him," he said. "I refused, so they revealed that they had recordings of embarrassing phone conversations I had with a girl, which they were going to spread."

"The intelligence officer asked me to place a bug in the clothes of a colleague at my university dorm in return for the recording with the girl being erased.

"I never imagined Israeli intelligence would record my phone conversations. I'm not an important person or a political activist... I never imagined Israel would want to recruit me as a spy, as I'm not into politics and I'm not financially in need, plus I don't have access to any secret information."

     I'm not an important person... I never imagined Israel would want to recruit me as a spy.

Ayad's story appears to support the recruitment tactics of an Israeli intelligence agency, as recently revealed by a number of officers in the Israeli media.

Al-Araby al-Jadeed was able to speak to one of the disgruntled officers, Amos S, who worked was in Unit 8200 of the Military Intelligence Directorate.

He said his unit spied on the private lives of ordinary Palestinians via mobile phones, computers and online, so they could be blackmailed to become full informants or taking part in "one-time operations".

"All the communications of Palestinians are recorded and the system can filter and categorise conversations according to content, such as a possible security threat or a human weakness like an extra-marital affair or sexual relations among teenagers, or the corruption of an official, or someone who is in trouble," Amos said.

The information was cross-referenced with the target's GPS coordinates. Friends and family are also tracked to build a picture of the target's relationships.

Amos said the cases would be transferred to officers of unit 504 who were fluent in Arabic and understood the "Palestinian personality", and who would then attempt to recruit the target.

Khudr Abbas, a former director of the Palestinian anti-espionage unit, said he believed it was not possible to determine the number of Palestinians that Israel has attempted to recruit, as it was such a regular occurrence.

"This unit targets all Palestinians, even children," he said.

This is an edited translation from our Arabic edition.