Netanyahu Might Seek to Extend Controversial Security Agency Civilian Surveillance
Early-on in the coronavirus crisis, for many Israelis, the havoc COVID-19 wreaked on the nation’s health and economy was to many of no greater concern than what was already being seen as irreparable harm to the country’s democracy. The Shin Bet, Israel’s domestic intelligence agency akin to America’s FBI, was being allowed access to citizens’ personal information, ostensibly in order to protect innocent civilians from being infected by inconsiderate countrymen who didn’t play by the rules. Records of entry into Israel supplied by the Interior Ministry were of concern, but when people began to hear talk of government access to credit card records in order to identify those whose purchase receipts showed the cardholder’s whereabouts to be other than where stated, concern among the public skyrocketed. In the interim, despite a good deal of complaining by the populace, the government has pretty much had its way. And based upon the most recent request to the courts by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, those who warned that “temporary” measures never really are might be right. The current Shin Bet citizen tracking is authorized by executive order, but the High Court has warned that it must be turned over to enabling legislation, the process for which must begin by Thursday. The daily Haaretz’s Noa Landau reports on Monday that Netanyahu is considering dropping the idea of keeping the distasteful and unpopular infringement upon citizens’ civil rights on the books. His cabinet is debating the issue on Monday.