How Israel's elite spy agency Mossad is fighting coronavirus

Israel has in recent days dramatically restricted public life in response to the virus threat, with the government announcing a partial lockdown of the economic system and urging the public to stay at home unless absolutely necessary for purposes of work, purchasing necessities or other urgent affairs.

Israel battles with coronavirus

After Israel's internal security agency Shin Bet said its spy agency would collect information about citizens to fight the spread of the deadly coronavirus, reports have emerged that Mossad will bring in 100,000 virus kits and was planning to import millions more.

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'Emergency regulations'

The measure was declared by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday under emergency regulations, after a parliamentary committee tasked with green-lighting the move refused to give it final approval, saying it needed more time.

The government "authorised the Shin Bet to put its advanced technologies in the service of the national effort to reduce the spread of coronavirus," a Shin Bet statement said.

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Mossad to import at least 4 mn kits to collect data

According to Israeli media, Mossad is planning to import at least four million kits to collect data from its citizens by taking swabs. Involving the spy agency in the fight against coronavirus sets "a dangerous precedent", according to Tehilla Shwartz Altshuler of the Israel Democracy Institute (IDI), speaking before the emergency regulations.  

In the Shin Bet statement, agency chief Nadav Argaman said the agency was approached by the health ministry to help track coronavirus carriers "after it emerged that other authorities in the state do not have the necessary technologies".

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The leaked copy of the decision

The Shin Bet would also be able to use the location data of coronavirus carriers for the 14 days preceding their diagnosis "to identify their routes and the people with whom they came in contact with," the leaked copy of the decision said.

 The parliamentary committee delayed its approval, referring the issue to the new Knesset, Netanyahu, however, announced that his cabinet would authorise the measures under emergency powers.

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Other arms of Israel's security apparatus also deployed

Although there are reports of shortage of kits but the government is determined to go ahead. According to reports, other arms of Israel's security apparatus have also been deployed to combat the virus.

 

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Over 400 confirmed cases

Israel has confirmed 433 cases of the virus with the number set to rise further. Israel's ministry said its regular morning update was being delayed by an increase in tests and testing facilities that have led to more data to parse through.

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Restrictions on public life

Israel has in recent days dramatically restricted public life in response to the virus threat, with the government announcing a partial lockdown of the economic system and urging the public to stay at home unless absolutely necessary for purposes of work, purchasing necessities or other urgent affairs.

(Photograph:AFP)

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