‘I don’t believe’ Israel is spying on US

White House sign and logo at the Press Room in White House is seen in Washington D.C. United States on 15 May 2019

The miniature surveillance devices, colloquially known as "StingRays", mimic regular cell towers to fool cellphones into giving them their locations and identity information.

The report comes at a sensitive time, with Israelis returning to the polls next week for a second general election this year as Netanyahu fights to hold on to his office.

That would be a deep contrast to the years-long diplomatic strain that followed the sentencing of Jonathan Pollard, a former USA intelligence analyst who pleaded guilty to spying for Israel and who was later granted Israeli citizenship.

It was not the first time Israel has been accused of spying against its close ally.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu flew on Thursday to the Black Sea resort city of Sochi, where he met with. He said Israel does not conduct spy operations in the U.S.

Israel denied a news report that it has been tapping the cell phones of White House officials.

This, despite the fact that, according to one of the former officials cited in the report, "the devices were likely meant to spy on President Donald Trump... as well as his top aides and closest associates".

Politico reported that U.S. officials believe Israelis were most likely the ones who set up several so-called stingray scanners, which mimic cellphone towers to intercept nearby calls and text messages, that were discovered in downtown Washington in 2017.

According to an Axios report, Israeli officials are now considering why the information would be brought up now.

"We have a directive, I have a directive: No intelligence work in the United States, no spies", Netanyahu stated.

Tehran's ambassador to the International Atomic Agency (IAEA), Kazem Gharib Abadi, tells a meeting of the agency's board of governors that recent statements by US officials and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu amounted to "a US-Israeli plot" to put pressure on the agency and its inspection activities in Iran. "I would find that hard to believe", he said.

Charles Freilich, a former national security adviser in Israel and an analyst on U.S. -Israel relations also said the report was likely false.

Rafi Eitan - a Mossad agent who captured Nazi Adolf Eichmann in 1960 - was exposed in the 1980s as the handler of Jonathan Pollard, a U.S. analyst who gave thousands of top secret documents to Israel. He was freed in 2015 by President Barack Obama, but his fate continues be a source of discomfort for Israelis, with the United States continuing to refuse his request to immigrate to Israel.

Israel, one of the United states' closest allies, issued a strong denial.

"I don't think the Israelis are spying on us".

The belief is that while he worked at the Naval Intelligence Center for Counter Terrorism in Maryland, Pollard handed files to the Israelis, including documents relating to Arab troops, the Palestine Liberation Organization and chemical and biological warfare programs conducted by Iraq, Libya and Syria.

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