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Israel extends cell phone monitoring three weeks to combat SK

US, WASHINGTON (NEWS OBSERVATORY) — An Israeli Internal Intelligence Committee (Shin Bet) parliament has been authorized to continue to use mobile phone data to track people with the coronavirus until May 26, extending the term of an initiative that critics have described as a privacy threat.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has sought to prolong the extension to be six weeks while his government will present a bill to the Knesset to organize this work in order to fulfill the requirements of the Supreme Court, which has expressed concern about the dangers posed by surveillance of individual freedom.

In March, during the spread of infection, the Netanyahu government overtook parliament and passed emergency regulations enabling it to use this technology, which is usually used to combat terrorism.

Within two weeks, the Netanyahu government will submit a bill to regulate the use of the Shin Bet monitoring of citizens. The public will have a week to comment on the bill, and then it will be submitted to Parliament for approval.

Proponents believe it is more necessary than ever while public isolation restrictions are gradually being lifted.

Data received by the Parliamentary Intelligence Subcommittee on Tuesday showed that 5,516 people who had been infected with the Corona virus, a total of 16,265, were detected by monitoring the Shin Bet mobile phone.

“Although it is aggressive and involves privacy (problems) there is no other way at this time,” the former justice minister and committee member Ayelet Shaked told Reuters, noting that the committee receives updated data on the matter every week.

Opponents believe that such monitoring is unnecessary as long as patient numbers continue to decline.

More than ten thousand patients have recovered in Israel and only 66 people are still on ventilators. The death toll rose to two on the previous day, bringing the total to 237 deaths.

Committee member Eli Avidar described the observation as an exercise in dictatorial methods such as North Korea.

The Supreme Court ruled last week to oblige the government to enact legislation to use mobile phone tracking, saying it was necessary to find a suitable alternative consistent with privacy principles.

At present, Israel is forming a governing coalition after three failed attempts via the ballot box to form a government, the last of which was in March.

Under pressure from the necessity to reopen the economy after more than a million Israelis filed for unemployment benefits, Netanyahu said on Monday that there will be another easing of restrictions that include allowing visits to relatives, while shopping centers will reopen later this week.

Schools reopened for students from grades one to three and will receive students from the rest of the classes in May.

“At this particular time because of the potential for increased casualties, we need a tool that allows the possibility of rapid surgical procedure that cuts the chain of infection and allows the population to continue their lives,” said National Security Council President Meir bin Shabat, referring to intelligence monitoring.

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Article is written and prepared by our foreign editors from different countries around the world – material edited and published by News Observatory staff in our US newsroom.

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