UK hacked drone feeds to watch as Israel bombed Gaza

The latest revelations from the documents leaked by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden once again concern Israel.

Glenn Greenwald’s site The Intercept revealed last week[1] that American and British spies have managed to hack into the visual feed of the Israeli drones and F16 fighter jets that regularly bomb the civilian population of Gaza. The programme is based on the island of Cyprus, and its code name is “Anarchist”. It dates as far back as January 2008, at a time when Israel was bombing Gaza in an attack which killed and injured Palestinian civilians[2], including at least one child. The GCHQ base on Cyprus intercepted Israeli drone feeds and sent the information back to the UK and to their allies in the NSA. Images published by The Intercept[3] even show several video stills in which the wings of recognisable Israeli drone models are viewable, as well as radar maps of occupied Palestine.

It’s unknown if this hacking is still ongoing. But these revelations are another sign of how fraught the military security style and intelligence relationship is between Israel and its ostensible Western allies. The US arms Israel to the tune of billions in military security style aid every year, and the British government allows an arms trade worth millions to flow there. As previously published Snowden leaks showed in 2013[4], the US even has a broad agreement to share “raw sigint” with Israel that is to say intelligence which has not been checked or redacted. However, other Snowden leaks[5] show that Israel is one the US’s top priorities for counter-intelligence operations along with, Iran, China, Russia, North Korea and Venezuela. In other words Israel, supposedly one of America’s top allies, is considered by US intelligence agencies to be one of the top spy threats to the US, ranking right alongside the countries considered the worst enemies.

A report in the Wall Street Journal[6] in December shows that Israel is still massively targeting the US in its spy operations, and so the NSA still considers it an import counter-intelligence target. This is not the first time Israeli drones have proven vulnerable to signals interception and hacking. As the The Intercept notes, Hizballah was able to perform an ambush of Israeli occupation forces in Lebanon in 1997 thanks to intercepted video footage nabbed from Israeli spy drone feeds. The incident was supposed to lead to the signals being encrypted. But something which struck me in the new leaks was just how weak Israel’s protection of its drone feeds still is. Although the signals are now scrambled, they use an outdated technology that Sky TV used to scramble its analogue satellite TV signal, a leaked GCHQ manual shows[7].

GCHQ was able to de-scramble this using a simple and freely available open-source tool called AntiSky[8] which was written 22 years ago[9]. Hardly the sophisticated technology which Israel likes to portray itself as developing. In 2005, Hizballah was still intercepting Israeli drone footage. Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallh[10] revealed in 2010 that Israeli spy drones had been monitoring the movements of assassinated Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, and flew over the area on the day he was killed. Nasrallah argued that Israel had been behind the murder, with the motive of igniting a sectarian war in Lebanon. He released the footage itself at the same time. In 2013, a Heron 1 Israeli drone was actually hijacked briefly by hackers[11], likely from Iran or Hizballah, before Israel managed to destroy it.

After all of this, it’s important to remember one thing: the western “allies” spied on Israel for their on malign interests just as Israel spies on the US for its own malign interests. According to the Intercept report, “US and British spies had a virtual seat in the cockpit” as Israel bombed Gaza. In other words, they literally watched as Israel bombed Palestinian children to death. One striking fact about the NSA and GCHQ’s motives for intercepting Israeli drone footage was that it was partly about the arms industry. They reportedly wanted to see Israel drones (exported throughout the world) “in action” in real time. A pretty sickening thought.

The Israeli arms industry regularly boasts that its products are “battle tested”. In other words, Palestinians are human test subjects in a gross industry of death.

Asa Winstanley[12] is an investigative journalist who lives in London and an associate editor with The Electronic Intifada.

References

  1. ^ revealed last week (theintercept.com)
  2. ^ killed and injured Palestinian civilians (www.nydailynews.com)
  3. ^ Images published by The Intercept (theintercept.com)
  4. ^ showed in 2013 (www.middleeastmonitor.com)
  5. ^ other Snowden leaks (www.middleeastmonitor.com)
  6. ^ report in the Wall Street Journal (www.middleeastmonitor.com)
  7. ^ a leaked GCHQ manual shows (www.documentcloud.org)
  8. ^ AntiSky (www.cl.cam.ac.uk)
  9. ^ written 22 years ago (www.cl.cam.ac.uk)
  10. ^ Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallh (www.youtube.com)
  11. ^ hijacked briefly by hackers (www.richardsilverstein.com)
  12. ^ Asa Winstanley (www.asawinstanley.com)

Coast Guard intercepts Pak fishing boat in Kutch, 11 arrested

By: PTI | Ahmedabad | Published:February 6, 2016 5:21 pm[1] Photo for representational purpose.

Indian Coast Guard (ICG) on Saturday intercepted a Pakistani fishing boat which illegally entered into Indian maritime boundary off Jakhau coast in Kutch district and arrested 11 fishermen onboard, officials said.

A fishing boat from Pakistan measuring 40 feet in length was intercepted by Indian Coast Guard off Jakhau coast, five nautical miles into Indian waters, Captain Abhishek Matiman, a defence spokesperson told PTI.

Eleven fishermen onboard the fishing boat have also been held, he said. Indian and Pakistan marine security agencies often capture fishing boats for crossing into their respective maritime boundary. Around 440 Indian fishermen are at present languishing in Pakistani jails, most of whom are from Gujarat, and around 860 Indian fishing boats in the custody of Pakistan.

Recently, a fishermen s organisation, in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi[2], had requested him to initiate efforts to bring back jailed Indian fishermen and their boats from Pakistan.

The letter was written by president of the Porbandar Fishermen Boat Association Manish Lodhari, who is also the secretary of National Fishworkers Forum.

Coast Guard Intercepts Pakistan Fishing Boat In Kutch, 11 Arrested

Ahmedabad: Indian Coast Guard (ICG) today intercepted a Pakistani fishing boat which illegally entered into Indian maritime boundary off Jakhau coast in Kutch district and arrested 11 fishermen onboard, officials said.

“A fishing boat from Pakistan measuring 40 feet in length was intercepted by Indian Coast Guard off Jakhau coast, five nautical miles into Indian waters,” Captain Abhishek Matiman, a defence spokesperson told PTI.

“Eleven fishermen onboard the fishing boat have also been held,” he said.

Indian and Pakistan marine security agencies often capture fishing boats for crossing into their respective maritime boundary.

Around 440 Indian fishermen are at present languishing in Pakistani jails, most of whom are from Gujarat, and around 860 Indian fishing boats in the custody of Pakistan.

Recently, a fishermen’s organisation, in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, had requested him to initiate efforts to bring back jailed Indian fishermen and their boats from Pakistan.

The letter was written by president of the Porbandar Fishermen Boat Association Manish Lodhari, who is also the secretary of National Fishworkers’ Forum.

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