JERUSALEM: Israel announced it was setting up a national inquiry on Monday after a newspaper reported illicit use by police of powerful spyware against confidants of former PM Benjamin Netanyahu and other public figures. Pegasus, a cellphone hacking tool made by Israel’s NSO Group, was used to “phish for intelligence even before any investigation had been opened against the targets, and without judicial warrants”, Calcalist said in an unsourced report.
Calcalist said targets in Israel included a son of and two aides to Netanyahu — who is on trial on corruption charges he denies — as well as a codefendant and several witnesses, and, separately, two former officials suspected in leaks to journalists. The court hearing the case against Netanyahu said it was cancelling the next session, scheduled for Tuesday, and would await answers from the prosecution about the hacking allegations before deciding whether proceedings would resume on Wednesday.
Omer Barlev,the minister for police, said he was setting up a cabinet-level commission of inquiry, drawing calls from some colleagues in the government for a more independent probe. PM Naftali Bennett called the allegations against the police “veryserious, if true”.


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