Gaza, Asharq Al-Awsat- Investigations undertaken by the Palestinian security forces in Gaza have confirmed that Israel’s internal security service Shin Bet are utilizing the internet in an attempt to recruit Palestinian informants.
Asharq Al-Awsat has learnt that some of those suspected of spying for Israel have recently admitted that they first became affiliated with the Shin Bet organization over the internet, particularly through social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
An informed security source told Asharq Al-Awsat that a number of Palestinians have claimed that members of Shin Bet who specialize in recruiting Palestinian informants are using false identities to try and recruit Palestinian youths who surf the internet and are members of social networking sites. The source also said that these Shin Bet members utilize information posted by these youth about themselves for this purpose.
The Palestinian security source also confirmed that members of Shin Bet trick their victims by first asking them for normal information, before asking for more sensitive information about the resistance movements.
A number of citizens in the Gaza Strip have also claimed that the Israeli intelligence service has telephoned them claiming to be members of western or Palestinian study centers wanting to conduct a survey on their views on security issues and internal Palestinian security. The Palestinians say that these telephone calls have international or western dialing codes.
A Palestinian living in the Jabaliya Refugee Camp said that he was surprised when an individual claiming to be a researcher at an Arab researcher center in London phoned him to ask about the resistance movements and the Palestinian public perception of them. He said he was certain that the alleged researcher was connected with the Israeli intelligence service and he revealed that he had been asked “What would you do if a group of resistance fighters were standing outside of your home, would you expel them or protect them?”
Another youth said that a woman who spoke fluent Arab contacted him claiming to be a member of a West Bank [research] organization and wanted him to take part in a survey, however all the questions were about the Palestinian resistance and the public perception of this. The youth said that he refused to take part in the survey as he believed that it may have a connection with the Israeli intelligence service.
For its part, the Interior Ministry in Gaza said that it was conducting a large campaign to raise awareness amongst the Palestinian people to confront this phenomenon. Interior Ministry spokesman Ihab Ghussein, warned citizens against “getting stuck in the mire of collaboration by misusing social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter and others.” He confirmed that Israeli intelligence was utilizing such sites to collect information about Palestinian citizens and extort them to become Israeli informants.
Ghussein said “unfortunately many citizens post everything that they do on these websites and this includes all news about close friends and relatives, thereby giving free information to the occupation.”