Lebanon dismantles 'largest' Israeli spy network operating in the country
The Internal Security Forces' information branch uncovered over 15 Israeli spy networks working independently across Lebanon and even reaching neighbouring Syria - in one of Lebanon's "largest security operations carried out since 2009", Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar claimed.
Over 35 alleged members of the network were interrogated over the past month, and at least 20 suspects were arrested.
The arrests prevented efforts to "tamper with security and sabotage the stability" in Lebanon, Prime Minister Najib Mikati said in a cabinet statement read out by Information Minister Abbas Halabi.
The spies were found to be monitoring and providing information on Hezbollah and Palestinian factions in Lebanon, including Hamas, according to Al-Akhbar.
The network reportedly penetrated the information branch of security services and allegedly became close to its leadership, the report said.
One of the suspects revealed that one of his aims was to disclose information on officers in the branch.
A number of Lebanese non-governmental organisations and associations were also reportedly infiltrated, with the purpose of collecting data on the country's political and social situation, the report said.
A Syrian civilian was also arrested in Damascus for allegedly monitoring civilian, military, and commercial sites for the network - although the suspect said he was not aware that the network was connected to Israel.
Communication through the network occurred via websites, closed chat rooms, and phone calls using Lebanese phone numbers, according to the claims.
The majority of recruits were made via social media platforms, the report said, adding that most of the recruits were successful due to a desperate need for money.
Israel has been at the centre of espionage accusations over the past year after the country's hacker-for-hire company NSO group developed Spyware used against journalists, activists and diplomats globally.