Israeli officials are taking in stride the latest revelation that their prime minister’s office was one of the growing number of targets of NSA spying. That may be because Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu takes extraordinary measures to prevent his communications from being compromised, which include avoiding almost all electronic communications and resorting to speaking in code, Israeli media reported.
Netanyahu has no computer in his office, does not use email and has no private telephone, Israel’s Channel 2 reported.
Channel 10 News reported that the protective measures go even farther, with Netanyahu and those with whom he discusses particularly sensitive topics using gestures rather than actual words to communicate. This, because they are concerned about being spied upon.
The Times of Israel wrote of the report, “Netanyahu’s aides will tell you that he sometimes ‘speaks in codes’ during discussions, the Channel 10 report said, and that even when it’s not entirely clear what he means by the ‘code’ name for this or that official, they can’t ask him because he won’t tell them.”
Additionally, the prime minister reportedly holds his most sensitive talks only in Mossad offices, which he believes to be safe from listening devices, Channel 10 reported.
“Netanyahu and his former defense minister [Ehud] Barak have always worked on the assumption that they were under surveillance, the Hebrew TV reports said, describing Netanyahu as ‘cautious and suspicious’ and noting that it was the worst-kept secret that even allies such as the US spy on friendly states. Friday’s revelations are just the tip of the iceberg,” the Times of Israel wrote of Channel 10’s revelations.
Netanyahu is no stranger to the world of intelligence, as he is a veteran of the Israel Defense Forces elite field intelligence reconnaissance unit, Sayeret Matkal.
Israel’s muted reaction to the latest revelations stood in contrast to angry public statements from Germany and Brazil after information from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed the spying on their leaders.
As TheBlaze reported, an email address belonging to then Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was targeted in January 2009. The Guardian reported that then Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s email was also intercepted by U.S. and British spy agencies.
While Netanyahu did not directly address the controversy, he did call on Sunday for the release of convicted spy Jonathan Pollard from U.S. custody. “We do not need any special event in order to discuss the release of Jonathan Pollard. We are dealing with it. I am dealing with it, with all US presidents, including President Obama, all the time, including now. We hope that the conditions will be created that will enable us to bring Jonathan home,” Netanyahu said.
Appearing to reference the NSA spying revelations, Netanyahu added at the opening of his weekly cabinet meeting, “This is neither conditional on, nor related to, recent events, even though we have given our opinion on these developments.”
Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz called the breach “unacceptable,” especially in light of close intelligence sharing between Israel and its American and British allies.
“Under these conditions, it is unacceptable to behave in this manner,” he said told Channel 2 on Saturday night.
Steinitz said Israel has long believed that “not only Arab states are trying to spy on us,” but allies as well.