Israel’s espionage industry aids repressive regimes around the world, including some Muslim and Arab states, according to an extensive investigation carried out by Israeli daily Haaretz, findings of which were published Friday.
According to the newspaper, the investigation was based on 100 separate sources in 15 countries.
“Findings show that Israeli industry has not hesitated to sell offensive capabilities to many countries that lack a strong democratic tradition -- even when they have no way to ascertain whether the items sold were being used to violate the rights of civilians,” Haaretz reported.
According to testimony gathered during the investigation, Israeli surveillance equipment has been used to find and detain activists and dissidents in several countries.
The investigation also found that Israeli firms had sold espionage equipment to buyers who were publicly known to be using them for malicious purposes.
Israeli companies, the probe found, had sold spying and intelligence-gathering software to more than 25 countries in Asia, Europe, Africa, Latin America and the Arab world.
These countries, according to Haartetz, include Bahrain, Indonesia, Angola, Mozambique, the Dominican Republic, Azerbaijan, Swaziland, Botswana, Bangladesh, El Salvador, Panama and Nicaragua.
The newspaper went on to say that the probe had corroborated earlier reports of Israeli sales to Mexico, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, South Sudan, Honduras, Peru, Colombia, Uganda, Nigeria, Ecuador and the United Arab Emirates, among others.
According to Haaretz, most of the employees with whom the newspaper spoke declined to have their testimonies appear in the report, mainly because they had signed strict non-disclosure agreements.
Those who agreed to discuss their role in the industry, meanwhile, appear in the report under false names.
“While some CEOs spoke, others preferred to toe the secrecy line and spout the usual response,” the paper asserted.
The Israeli Defense Ministry, for its part, said in a statement: “The Defense Exports Control Agency operates under the aegis of the Supervision Law to safeguard Israel’s strategic interests. The supervision is carried out according to [international] conventions and is applied in the light of international standards.”
It added: “The supervision policy is examined frequently in accordance with diverse considerations, including considerations of upholding human rights. The Foreign Ministry, which also attaches great importance to human rights, takes part in the decision-making process.”