A-G Approves Use of Pegasus Spyware in Arab Murder Investigation

Police at the scene of where five family members were shot to death in the northern Israeli Bedouin town of Basmat Tab’un, Wednesday. (Shir Torem/Flash90)

Attorney-General Gali Baharav-Miara on Thursday granted Police Commissioner Yaakov Shabtai’s request to employ Pegasus, surveillance spyware developed by Israeli company NSO Group, in the investigation of the tragic murder of five family members in Basmat Tab’un, a Bedouin town.

Shabtai emphasized the importance of restoring these technological capabilities for the investigation and highlighted the potential advancements they could bring. He conducted an assessment at the Basmat Tab’un police station, condemning the murders as one of the most horrific incidents he had encountered. He stated that it was a deliberate family assassination, likely in retaliation for a previous incident earlier that day. The commissioner reiterated the police’s commitment to deploying all available resources to bring the perpetrators to justice.

Shabtai emphasized that there is no distinction between these terrorists and others, asserting that crossing the line to eliminate an entire family is unacceptable. He explained that Lahav 433, the crime-fighting organization within the Israel Police, will lead the efforts in collaboration with relevant parties, utilizing their expertise and seeking necessary technological tools to expedite arrests, conduct searches, and apply economic measures to pressure the perpetrators.

The massacre, which claimed the lives of five family members, is believed to be a retaliatory act following the murder of Atef Abu Khalib in Haifa. Reports from Calcalist have raised concerns about the unauthorized use of Pegasus, suggesting it was employed against individuals suspected of minor offenses or even without suspicion. The investigation revealed that the software’s use was kept confidential within the Israel Police, with officers granted permission to use it without court or external authority approval.

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