JERUSALEM : Israeli Pegasus spyware used to hack Palestinians' phones.

An investigation by a European Rights group published Monday found that Israeli-made Pegasus  spyware was used to hack the phones of staff of Palestinian  civil society groups targeted by Israel.

The revelations by Frontline Defenders - backed up by Amnesty International and the University of Toronto's Citizen Lab - mark the latest development in the widening controversy surrounding six prominent Palestinian groups designated as ''terrorist organizations' by Israel defence ministry last month.

Pegasus - made by the NSO company that was put on a US blacklist last week - turns phones into spying devices, giving users total access to the target's phone contents without them knowing.

Israel insists the designated Palestinian groups work in collaboration with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine PFLP], a Marxist group labelled a terrorist organisation by many Western states.

There has been widespread criticism of the terrorist designation slapped on the groups Addameer, AI-Haq, Bisan Center for Research and Development, Defense for Children International. - Palestine  DCI-P], the Union of Agricultural Work Committees UAWC], and the Union of Palestinian Women's Committees [UPWC].

According to the Frontline Defenders investigation, six devices used by employees of the target groups  ''were hacked with NSO Group's Pegasus spyware. [ AFP]


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