Israeli military intelligence agents have reportedly helped the regime’s security council collect information on citizens in order to prevent unrest over the handling of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Senior military intelligence officials confirmed to Haaretz newspaper the participation of officers in discussions of a committee appointed by Israel’s NSC agency to address the outbreak.
According to the report, the committee discussed two weeks ago the possibility of a popular revolt over growing economic, psychological, and health problems in the occupied territories and possible ways to prevent such a rebellion.
The participants considered how “to halt, in time, the risks that could very well bring about wide-scale social unrest,” thereby possibly leading to anti-regime protests, the report said.
The committee, headed by Professor Eli Waxman of the Weizmann Institute of Science, gathered the NSC and military representatives as well as a group of 30 participants hailing from academic, defense, law enforcement, and government fields.
They raised possible causes for unrest, including economic hardship people are going through and a sense that the Israeli authorities have lost control.
They further cited a possible trend toward focusing on a “scapegoat” for the crisis such as the ultra-Orthodox community, Arabs or foreigners.
The participants in the NSC committee proposed an “awareness campaign” to reduce feelings of discontent and a ministerial panel responsible for influencing the public.
Waxman’s son was listed as a research assistant for the committee, while he serves as an officer in a military intelligence unit which, in regular times, gathers intelligence information on the enemy using advanced technological means.
Sources in the Israeli army said the officer had obtained his commanders’ permission to help the NSC committee gather information which could serve as a database.
Waxman’s son is “an officer in the intelligence branch who volunteered to help out as a research assistant on matters of gathering open information from around the world and building a database to support the committee’s work. He led teams of volunteers from the unit who specialize in such work, with the approval of his superiors,” members of the NSC committee noted.
The Israeli army claimed that military intelligence officers did not participate in the discussions concerning social protests.
Representatives of the military intelligence directorate “aided the NSC, with the authority and approval of the relevant bodies, in collecting open information from the internet on planning exit strategies from all over the world, and making them accessible to the members of the committee,” the Israeli army spokesperson’s unit said.
“It should be emphasized that Military Intelligence officers did not take part in discussions concerning social protests in Israel and civil revolt. In addition, the intelligence branch does not collect information about the citizens of Israel.”
Last month, Israel gave its spy agency Shin Bet the green light to use “counter-terrorism” operations against those infected with COVID-19, treating the pandemic as a security menace.
Shin Bet confirmed that it was examining the use of its technological capabilities to deal with the highly contagious virus.
Israel has so far reported 15,148 infection cases and almost 200 deaths from the coronavirus.