>DESERT BASE LISTENS TO THE WORLD TALKING

Posted on September 6, 2010

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Israel’s Urim base in the Negev desert is among the most important and powerful intelligence gathering sites in the world. Yet, until now, its eavesdropping has gone entirely unmentioned

BY NICKY HAGER

Israel’s most important intelligence-gathering installation is only a 30km drive into the Negev desert from Beersheba prison – where those taking part in the Gaza aid flotilla were briefly detained this June. The base, hidden until now, has rows of satellite dishes that covertly intercept phone calls, emails and other communications from the Middle East, Europe, Africa and Asia. Its antennas monitor shipping and would have spied on the aid ships in the days before they were seized.

Israel’s powerful position in the Middle East is often associated with its armed forces, nuclear weapons arsenal or covert (Mossad) operatives. But just as important is its intelligence gathering – monitoring governments, international organisations, foreign companies, political organisations and individuals. Most of this happens at the installation in the Negev a couple of kilometres to the north of the kibbutz of Urim. Our sources, close to Israeli intelligence, know the base first-hand. They describe lines of satellite dishes of different sizes, and barracks and operations buildings on both sides of the road (the 2333) that leads to the base. (more on cryptome.org)

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