Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz announced that “the Israeli defense establishment is currently studying the file of the “NSO” group that developed the Pegasus spy program.
The announcement comes after a meeting he held with members of the Meretz party, which is part of the government coalition, on Thursday.
The minister said that the Israeli Defense Ministry does not grant licenses to export electronic products except for “security purposes, or only crime prevention.”
A senior Israeli official confirmed to the BBC on Wednesday that a ministerial team is looking into allegations of misuse of spyware sold by the Israeli Internet Corporation.
The official added that, contrary to what was reported in the local and international media, the Israeli National Security Council was not leading the team involved in this operation.
The Israeli “NSO” group is currently causing an uproar around the world, amid allegations that it sold a misused spyware program, while the company officially denies its role in any violations.
Human rights reports showed that the Pegasus program was used to monitor dozens of journalists, activists and political leaders around the world.
And a global investigation published last Sunday revealed that the Pegasus program was used to hack smart phones, among a list of targets that included about 50,000 phones, some of which belong to political figures, including French President Emmanuel Macron, and Moroccan King Mohammed VI, as well as members of Arab royal families, including Sheikha. Latifa, the daughter of the ruler of Dubai, and Princess Haya bin Al Hussein, his ex-wife.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett did not comment on the issue, but he defended Israel’s burgeoning industrial computer security, while participating in an IT conference on Wednesday.
Bennett praised Israel’s technological prowess, attributing the sector’s domestic prosperity to elite army units that serve as incubators for start-ups.
In a related context, on Wednesday, a Saudi official denied what was reported by the media about the kingdom’s use of spyware to track communications, according to state television.
The official added that these allegations are unfounded, and stressed that the Kingdom does not endorse such practices.