‘Earthquake’: U.S., U.K. Spies Broke Data Encryption, Revealing Israeli Secrets

 In this March 7, 2007 file photo The Israeli army's Heron unmanned drone aircraft for surveillance missions flies during a display at the Palmahim Air Force Base, Israel. Israel's military has grounded a fleet of long-distance surveillance drones after a malfunction occurred in one over the Mediterranean Sea. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit, File)
In this 2007 file photo, the IDF’s Heron unmanned drone aircraft for surveillance missions flies during a display at the Palmachim Air Force Base, Israel. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit, File)

American and British spy agencies have had access to top secret Israeli communications for nearly two decades, documents unveiled by rogue CIA agent Edward Snowden reveal. The documents were published in the print edition of Friday’s Yediot Aharonot, after approval by the IDF censor.

According to the report, the National Security Agency (NSA) in the U.S. and British spy agency GHCQ have for the past 18 years been collecting encrypted communications from Israeli satellites, drones, planes, and other aerial forces. The spy agencies were able to break the Israeli encryption, and have been keeping tabs on the activities of the army and air force.

The program, called Operation Anarchist, targeted not only Israel, but other Middle Eastern countries such as Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Iran, and Turkey. But according to the documentation, it was Israel that most interested the agencies. The operation has been ongoing since 1998, the documents reveal.

The documents reveal that Israel has an extensive collection of unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) which are deployed to gather data on a large number of targets – including Gaza terror installations, sites in Palestinian Authority-controlled areas of Yehudah and Shomron, as well as targets in neighboring countries. According to analysts who examined the documentation, the report said, Israel has even used these drones to gather data on the Iranian nuclear program. Some of the drones are also meant to be used in battle situations when necessary, and are equipped with missiles and bombs.

The drones collect data and take photos, which are then transmitted back to IDF bases in an encrypted manner – and it is this data that the U.S. and British agencies intercepted and were able to break the code for. With the data, the spy agencies were able to deduce a great deal of information about the defense establishment’s targets and strategies. In essence, the report said, American and British spies “were able to see, from a security and intelligence point of view, everything Israel saw.”

In one of the documents, a memo from the GHCQ says that the information provided by the program “is unmatched in its ability to provide us with an understanding of the IDF and its actions, and gives us an important window into future developments in the region.”

The defense establishment has not yet commented publicly on the matter. The report quotes a top security official as calling the revelations “an earthquake. They forced their way into our communications systems, and this means that we can not rely on any of our encrypted systems, because they may not be safe. This is the most serious security breach in the history of Israeli intelligence.”

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