U.S. Spies Throughout Israel: Report

Middle East Newsline - December 15, 2008

TEL AVIV [MENL] -- The Israeli intelligence community has determined that the United States conducts intense espionage efforts in the Jewish state.

A book by a government-financed institution asserted that the United States has been engaged in human and electronic surveillance of Israel. The book, titled "Masterpiece: An Inside Look at Sixty Years of Israeli Intelligence," said U.S. espionage agencies operate from the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv and target Israelis as well as strategic facilities.

"The United States has been after Israel's non-conventional capabilities and what goes on at the decision-making echelons," the book, published by the Israel Intelligence Heritage and Commemoration Center," said.

The book, which contains prefaces by the heads of Israel's intelligence community, asserted that the United States has focused on the secret nuclear program of the Jewish state. In a chapter by retired Israel Security Agency officer Barak Ben-Zur, the book said U.S. intelligence also uses electronic surveillance and other methods to spy on Israeli government meetings.

This was the first time an official Israeli publication acknowledged U.S. spy efforts. The U.S. intelligence community has classified Israel as a leading spy threat in the United States.

The book said the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv has a special team to spy on Israel. Ben-Zur said the U.S. team engaged in "methodical intelligence gathering."

In the 1980s and 1990s, Israel was said to have arrested or expelled several people suspected of spying for the United States. The cases were not publicized.