Islamic Jihad has denied claims by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch that its workers’ phones have been hacked by Israel. “This information may be false. It is not related to the party’s work,” Islamic Jihad said in a statement to Agence France-Presse, adding that it had information “which could justify this statement.” It did not explain. A spokesman for Israel’s secret service said on Sunday that they had “not hacked” Palestinian civil society organizations and did not target individual workers as part of “Operation Shammala,” an operation launched last September to capture Palestinian militants’ communications devices. “We value the work that civil society organizations do for the Palestinian people. We are committed to ensure that the communications of civil society organizations are not used to coordinate terrorist acts,” an Israeli official said.
Mariam Elkhuzayil, director of the Jerusalem Legal Aid and Human Rights Center, told The Guardian: “In the case of the El-Zwiri family in Jerusalem, we believe that if we continue with our investigations and come to a conclusion, we will have clear proof that this family was targeted by Israel.”
Set up to defend Palestinians, the Palestinian Civil Society Network is a large network of Palestinian NGOs in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The network includes International Solidarity Movement staff, who have been critical of Israel. The devices were reportedly hacked in April and most recent two weeks ago. The Belgian NGO Developpement sans frontières said in a statement on its website that “other members of the network have reports of their phones being hacked and dozens of them have been inconvenienced by this act of censorship.”
Reporter Jenny Ainsworth is on a field mission to Gaza where she spoke to Palestinians about their experiences of internet censorship as war between Hamas and Israel continues.