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Israel recruiting Shin Bet officers to spy on Palestinian-Israelis

The Israeli military is recruiting former Shin Bet staffers [Getty]

Date of publication: 6 October, 2020

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The Israeli military is allegedly recruiting former members of the Shin Bet to spy on Palestinian citizens of Israel.

A Palestinian-Israeli activist group has urged Israel's military to halt its recruitment of former security service personnel to spy on Palestinian citizens of Israel, in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

Israeli news site Walla released an article over the weekend saying that the military's Home Front Command is recruiting former members of the Shin Bet to be part of a body "formulating courses of action, content, and messages for the various sectors, as part of the Covid-19 messaging efforts corona amongst the Arab and Druze sector".

The Shin Bet is Israel's internal security services.

The Israeli military is seeking former Shin Bet agents "with experience and specialization in Israeli Arabs", with a regional emphasis on the Galilee, Golan Heights, Wadi Ara area, Triangle, and East Jerusalem areas, according to the report. 

The military’s call allegedly specified that the intelligence gathering to be entrusted to current and former members of the Shin Bet, be focused on visible sources of information and "field sources", and that "acquaintance with Arab society and culture is required".

The report caused outrage amongst Palestinian citizens of Israel, who have been victim of systemic distrust by the Israeli government.

Adalah on Monday sent a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, saying that the Israeli military is going down a dangerous and divisive path with the mission.

"The Israeli military’s recruitment of former members of the Shin Bet security agency to gather intelligence on Arab citizens not only exceeds the legal powers and authority of the military's Home Front Command, but also proves once again that Israel continues to view us as a hostile security threat – just as it did decades ago when Arab citizens were subject to military rule between 1948 and 1966," Adalah General Director Attorney Dr. Hassan Jabareen said in a press release.

"If Israel’s government really wants to stop the spread of Covid-19 among Arab citizens, it must see us as equal citizens. At the very start of this crisis, Adalah warned that when the government involves security institutions in a civilian emergency, it pushes us down a very short road to repression and violation of basic human rights."

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