Israel to use ‘anti-terrorism’ tech to monitor infected citizens, as Netanyahu declares ‘war’ on coronavirus
Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu has said he was given the go-ahead to deploy invasive digital surveillance tools to track coronavirus patients, sparking privacy concerns and fears the move will be used to suppress dissent.
Dubbing the rapidly spreading Covid-19 “an invisible enemy” with which Israel is currently in a state of “war,” Netanyahu said on Sunday that he would ask the government to allow law enforcement to deploy “technologies used in the war against terror” to make sure coronavirus-hit citizens don’t breach quarantine.Also on rt.com ‘Nationalize factories & industries!’ De Blasio kicks panic up to 11, calling coronavirus ‘war-like situation’
The Israeli Justice Ministry is already on board with the proposal, he said.
Acknowledging that new ‘Big Brother’ measures would constitute an infringement on citizens’ privacy, Netanyahu justified the move by arguing that it was for a greater public good.
There is a certain invasion of the privacy of those people, where we will check who they came in contact with, including while sick, what came before that, what came after
Netanyahu’s militaristic stance on combating the disease has spawned backlash on social media. Netizens argued that with the pending rollout of new Orwellian surveillance measures, Netanyahu is opening “a scary Pandora’s box,” further cementing Israel’s reputation as a “security state.”
Digital surveillance of Israel’s general population, because of Corona, is a scary Pandora’s box. If there’s one thing I learned about Israel, is that what starts off as temporary, often becomes permanent. #israel#CoronaVirusUpdates@netanyahu@gantzbe#Democracy#coronavirus— Chutzpa Productions (@Chutzpapro) March 14, 2020
Some suggested that an actual reason behind the expansion of the state's surveillance powers was to quell Palestinian resistance against Netanyahu’s government.
“Watch him use it to choke off Palestinians even further and making it impossible for them to enact an effective response,” a commenter tweeted.
Watch Netanyahu use the Corona virus response he is enacting more for self-serving purposes than for truly helping. Watch him use it to choke off Palestinians even further and making it impossible for them to enact an effective response. /2— Milenaac (@milenaac) March 12, 2020
Netanyahu: To fight coronavirus Israel will begin mass surveillance of its citizens by implementing the same kind of technology it uses "against terrorism."Palestinians: *The longest side eye in history*— Edo Konrad (@edokonrad) March 14, 2020
Others sounded alarm that the crackdown on privacy on the pretext of fighting the coronavirus could help “normalize the practice elsewhere.”
Netanyahu announces new mass scale surveillance of Israeli citizens as a tool to contain #COVID19. This has never happened before, using the language of “counter terrorism” to justify gross violation of privacy of citizens— Haggai Matar (@Ha_Matar) March 14, 2020
Are we even remotely surprised Netanyahu has invoked a virulently militaristic counterterror discourse to refer to confronting a public health emergency? #CoronaVirus is an ideal terrain to polish Israel's authoritarian populism and repressive surveillance.— Budour Hassan (@Budour48) March 14, 2020
While touting measures to protect Israelis from the coronavirus, Netanyahu did not touch on what the Jewish state is planning to do to stop the spread of the disease in the Palestinian territories it occupies and effectively controls.
“Not a single word about Israel’s actions to protect millions of Palestinians living under Israeli military occupation,” ACLU Human Rights Program Director Jamil Dakwar tweeted.
Netanyahu just finished a press conference announcing new measures to counter the spread of #coronavirus. Not a single word about Israel’s actions to protect millions of Palestinians living under Israeli military occupation. pic.twitter.com/CxZHoUKU7P— Jamil Dakwar (@jdakwar) March 14, 2020
On top of the country deploying tracking software to combat the virus, schools, nurseries and recreational and leisure businesses will shut down on Sunday. Citizens have been asked to work from home, and public gatherings are limited to no more than 10 people.
The Health Ministry revealed on Saturday that 193 Israelis have tested positive for the coronavirus, while nearly 40,000 are in quarantine.
The closures follow a growing pattern in nations fighting off the coronavirus. Spain, Israel and France have all announced the shutting down of public areas and non-essential businesses.
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