Rebellion in the Ranks in Israel’s Unit 8200 (Similar to NSA): A Refusal to Furnish Blackmail Material to Security Agencies

Dozens of officers in Unit 8200 — the part of Israel’s Military Intelligence agency (Aman) that specializes in intercepting communications — say they’re refusing to serve, because of how some of the data they obtain is used.

A joint letter from 43 mid-rank officers and sergeants (though including one Major) in the Army reserves states that they will not carry out their assigned duties, because some of the information Unit 8200 harvests — largely by listening in on the phone calls of Palestinians — has to do with their health or their sexual orientation; and those nuggets of intelligence are then handed over to Shin Bet.

Reading between the lines, it seems that Unit 8200 — equivalent to America’s NSA — collects information which enables Shin Bet (domestic security) recruiters to put pressure on individual Palestinians. 

Emblem of Aman (Israeli Military Intelligence)

Emblem of Aman (Israeli Military Intelligence)

Blackmail is commonly one way to “persuade” someone in the enemy camp to become your spy.

The letter was addressed to the Director of Military Intelligence, the Minister of Defense, and even Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Shin Bet (the initials for “The Security Services,” usually known to Israelis by the Hebrew acronym Shabak) is similar to America’s FBI or Britain’s MI5 — a combination of domestic intelligence and law enforcement. Shin Bet has most of the responsibility for monitoring Palestinian radical organizations and activities.

Unit 8200 — formally known to its English-language foreign partners as ISNU (Israeli Sigint National Unit) — is equivalent to America’s NSA (the National Security Agency) and Britain’s GCHQ (Government Communications Headquarters).

The 43 protesters — some of whom have shown their letter to Israeli and foreign journalists — also complain that information gleaned from Unit 8200 signals intelligence (sigint) is used to designate targets for attack; and they say some innocent Palestinians have been killed in those strikes.

September 11, 2014

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