Amid Pegasus spyware scandal, Defence Minister Gantz claims Israel complies with international law

Amid Pegasus spyware scandal, Defence Minister Gantz claims Israel complies with international law
Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz's remarks follow accusations that Israeli tech firm NSO's spyware has been deployed against politicians, royalty and reporters.
2 min read
20 July, 2021
Defence Minister Benny Gantz did not specifically refer to NSO Group [Getty]

Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz claimed on Tuesday his country fully complies with international law amid claims that an Israeli firm has supplied spyware to repressive regimes.

The Blue and White party leader made the remarks during Tel Aviv University's Cyber Week, The Times of Israel said.

He acknowledged: "We are aware of recent publications regarding the use of systems developed in certain Israeli cyber companies."

He appeared to be referring to NSO Group, the creator of the Pegasus malware which has reportedly been deployed by governments in the Middle East and beyond - including Saudi Arabia and the UAE - to spy on perceived opponents, according to the media and NGO investigative collective, Pegasus Project.

Targets have allegedly included Lebanese politicians, Middle Eastern royalty, and even individuals connected to slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Journalists and activists have also been hit by the spyware.

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It has also been claimed over 30 journalists were chosen as targets by the Moroccan government.

Gantz said Israel permits the sale of spyware only to governing authorities who will employ it legally to look into and stop terror and other criminal activity.

Those nations receiving the technology have to stick to their promises to comply with Israel's standards, he added.

Gantz said Israel is looking into claims of misuse by customers.

Since news broke of the misuse of NSO's Pegasus malware, condemnation from NGOs and international officials has been strong.

The head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, on Monday expressed that what has happened is "completely unacceptable", assuming the allegations are accurate.

Meanwhile, French prosecutors on Tuesday announced they'd launched an investigation relating to accusations levelled at Morocco that it employed the spyware against multiple French reporters.