Hacking phones and accounts of Palestinian journalists, human rights activists and opposition figures is an unlawful act that requires investigation
Skyline International for Human Rights is deeply concerned by the revelations of West Bank Palestinian lawyers Muhannad Karajeh and Zafer Sa'ida that they have been subjected to constant attempts to hack and illegally use their personal phone numbers.
In a statement issued on Sunday, March 6, 2022, Skyline states that it followed up on yesterday's statement by lawyers Karajeh and Sa'ida - who are members of the group "Lawyers for Justice", which is interested in cases of political prisoners and freedoms - in which they confirmed that they have been subjected to constant attempts to break in using their personal phone numbers recently.
The two lawyers warned that these procedures could be aimed at creating fake email accounts or accounts through social media or other means that they do not use, and stressed that these attempts were not the first, saying that they have been repeatedly exposed to this type of unlawful hacking attempts.
The two lawyers warned that these procedures could be aimed at creating fake email accounts or accounts on social media or other means that they do not use. They stressed that these attempts were not the first and said that they have been repeatedly exposed to this type of unlawful hacking attempts to affect their legal work.
Skyline International condemns these hacking attempts and notes that it has recently received several complaints from journalists, human rights defenders, and opposition figures in the West Bank indicating that their accounts and personal pages on Facebook, as well as emails, WhatsApp, and private Telegram, have been subjected to hacking attempts by apparently organized and security-oriented parties.
According to these complaints, some of the hacked accounts were either closed or controlled and remained open to communicate with the individuals and groups that were added to them-a form of invasion of privacy and an attempt to spy on the conversations and the relationships of these individuals.
These complaints have shown that some accounts were controlled after an organized hack of these people's cell phones, with two-factor authentication messages used directly by the hackers.
The international foundation Skyline highlights Facebook's announcement on April 21, 2021 to suspend accounts used by the Palestinian Preventive Security Service to spy on the accounts of users, including opponents of the Palestinian Authority, human rights activists and journalists.
Facebook said at the time that it had stopped a network of fake Palestinian Preventive Security Service accounts that sought to gain users' trust by posing as public figures and then sending "cloaked electronic hacking links" to the targeted accounts. At the time, the Preventive Security Service rejected the Facebook administration's allegations, claiming that it respects the media and operates in accordance with law and order and respects the right to privacy and confidentiality.
However, Skyline International for Human Rights confirms that these data and complaints require the Palestinian prosecution to launch a professional and transparent investigation, as well as a political decision to put an end to these unlawful operations and hold those involved accountable.
Skyline also points to the November 9, 2021, revelations by the Irish Front Line Defenders Foundation that there is a systematic and clandestine campaign of spying and surveillance programs aimed at hacking the devices of Palestinian human rights defenders and lawyers.
As was revealed at the time, the "Pegasus" spying program was used against six Palestinian human rights defenders for seven human rights organizations, including "Human Rights Watch" and the Palestinian Al-Haq Foundation, which Israel categorized as terrorist organizations along with 5 other Palestinian civil society organizations, in order to delegitimize their work, isolate them from partner institutions and solidarity networks around the world.
The human rights foundation Skyline points out that this hacking coincided with Israel's classification of Palestinian civil society organizations, which provides evidence of the Israeli authorities' involvement in this operation.
Skyline International for Human Rights confirms that hacking the devices and accounts of journalists and human rights defenders violates not only their privacy, but also that of victims and sources of information with whom they are associated. It further stresses that any hacking, whether by the Palestinian or Israeli side, is a condemnable act and constitutes a violation of the right to privacy and confidentiality of correspondence, a constitutional right that must not be violated. Finally, it calls for effective measures to be taken to combat and criminalize the spying and surveillance industry targeting journalists and human rights defenders, and to respect local laws and international human rights law that criminalize violations of privacy.