Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Israeli intelligence pose as Arabs to spy on citizens

Jonathan Cook, The Electronic Intifada, 21 October 2009

"Civil rights groups in Israel have expressed outrage at the announcement last week that a special undercover unit of the police has been infiltrating and collecting intelligence on Israel's Palestinian Arab minority by disguising its officers as Arabs.

It is the first public admission that the Israeli police are using methods against the country's 1.3 million Arab citizens that were adopted long ago in the occupied territories, where soldiers are regularly sent on missions disguised as Palestinians.........

Orna Cohen, a lawyer with the Adalah legal group, said the accepted practice for police forces was to create specialized units according to the nature of the crime committed, not according to the ethnicity or nationality of the suspect. She warned that the unit's secretive nature, its working methods and the apparent lack of safeguards led to a strong suspicion that the Arab minority was being characterized as a "suspect group." "Such a trend towards racial profiling and further discrimination against the minority is extremely dangerous," she said.

Comments two years ago from Yuval Diskin, the head of the Shin Bet, have raised fears about the uses the police unit may be put to. He said the security services had the right to use any means to "thwart" action, even democratic activity, by the Arab minority to reform Israel's political system. All the Arab parties are committed to changing Israel's status from a Jewish state to "a state of all its citizens."

Abdel Fattah said: "This is about transferring the methods used in the West Bank and Gaza into Israel to erode our rights as citizens. It raises questions about what future the state sees for us here.""

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