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US counterintelligence officials reportedly say Israel probably planted surveillance devices near the White House; Israeli government issues strong denial


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says it isn't true

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

Israeli intelligence agents reportedly planted surveillance devices near the White House, according to reports from U.S. counterintelligence professionals.

What are the details?

On Thursday, Politico reported that state investigators discovered that Israel was likely behind the placement of StingRay phone trackers near the White House.

The investigation determined that Israeli intelligence agents reportedly intended to capture information from phones assigned to President Donald Trump and his administration.

One FBI official said that "it was pretty clear that the Israelis were responsible" for the devices.

Another official added, "The reaction ... was very different than it would have been in the last administration. With the current administration, there are a different set of calculations in regard to addressing this."

The outlet reported that the White House did not comment on the report, nor did the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, or the Secret Service.

What is Israel saying about this?

Elad Strohmayer, a spokesperson for the Israeli Embassy in the United States, said that the allegations are "nonsense."

"These allegations are absolute nonsense," Strohmayer said. "Israel doesn't conduct espionage operations in the United States, period."

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the report is a blatant lie.

In a statement, Netanyahu's office said, "There is a longstanding commitment, and a directive from the Israeli government not to engage in any intelligence operations in the U.S. This directive is strictly enforced without exception."

Israel Katz, Israel's minister of Foreign Affairs, echoed the sentiments.

“The U.S. and Israel share a lot of intelligence information and work together to prevent threats and strengthen the security of both countries," he said.

The news comes ahead of Netanyahu's fight for political survival in next week's elections. On Tuesday, the Israeli prime minister promised to annex up to one-third of the occupied West Bank if he were to win the reelection. You can read more about Netanyahu's annex announcement here.

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