Massive Israel spy base exposed

A French periodical has revealed the location of a secret Israeli espionage center, which ranks among the world’s largest and most significant.

The base, which intercepts information for the Israeli Spy Agency (Mossad) and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), is placed near Kibbutz Urim not far from Beersheba, the largest city in the Negev desert, which is in the south of Israel, Israeli website Ynetnews said on Sunday, detailing the report by the monthly newspaper Le Monde Diplomatique.

The French publication said the Israel Army’s intelligence Unit 8200, which is accommodated in the base, cracks into email boxes and taps the phone conversations of “governments, international organizations, foreign companies, political groups and individuals” in the Middle East, Asia, Africa and Europe.

Israeli daily Ha’aretz said the unit had intercepted a call between Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser and King Hussein of Jordan during the first day of the 1967 Six-Day War. Israel captured vast expanses of Arab lands including the Palestinian territories during the war.

The expository account was the work of Nick Hager, New Zealand investigative reporter and writer on issues involving intelligence networks, environmental matters and politics, Ha’aretz wrote.

Desert base listens to the world talking — Israel’s omniscient ears

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
Le Monde Diplomatique

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. High security gates, fences and dogs protect the facility. As you can see on the internet, the satellite images of the base are quite clear. A practised eye easily discerns the signs of an electronic surveillance base. A large circle in the farmland shows the site of a direction-finding antenna (HF/DF) for monitoring shipping.

The Urim base was established decades ago to monitor Intelsat satellites that relay phone calls between countries. It expanded to cover maritime communications (Inmarsat), then rapidly targeted ever more numerous regional satellites. As such, says intelligence specialist Duncan Campbell, it is “akin to the UK-USA pact’s Echelon satellite interception ground stations”. The Echelon system is a network of interception stations around the world, set up in 1996 by the US, Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Satellite phones used by the Gaza-bound aid ships were easy targets for this hi-tech equipment.

Our Israeli sources described how the computers are “programmed to detect words and phone numbers of interest” from intercepted phone calls, emails etc, then transferred to Unit 8200 – the headquarters of Israeli signals intelligence – in the city of Herzliya, north of Tel Aviv. There they are translated and passed on to other agencies, including the army and Mossad.

Unit 8200 and its counterparts – the British Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) and the American National Security Agency (NSA) – are less famous than their foreign intelligence and special operations agencies (MI6, the CIA and Mossad). Yet the signals agencies are far bigger.

The Urim base targets many nations, friend and foe. A former analyst at Unit 8200, a military service conscript, said she worked full time translating intercepted calls and emails from English and French into Hebrew. It was “interesting” work, studying routine communications to find the nuggets. Her section listened mostly to “diplomatic traffic and other off-shore [international] signals”. They also searched public internet sites.

The Urim base, said our sources, is the centre of a spying network that taps undersea cables (notably Mediterranean cables linking Israel to Europe via Sicily) and has covert listening posts in Israeli embassy buildings abroad. Unit 8200, which is officially part of the Israeli army, also has secret monitoring units within the Palestinian territories and uses Gulfstream jets fitted out as signals intelligence aircraft.

Excluding television satellites, most satellites, in an arc stretching from the Indian Ocean to the Atlantic, are probable targets: European, Arab, Russian and Asian, as well as the Intelsat and Inmarsat satellites. Images of the base show 30 listening antennas, making Urim one of the largest signals intelligence bases in the world. The only comparable-sized station is a US facility at Menwith Hill in Yorkshire, UK.

Other stations have been known about since the 1980s. There is a large NSA base near the German city of Bad Aibling, and another US base on the Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia, just northwest of an airbase with a runway full of B-52 bombers. The main UK base, at Morwenstow, Cornwall, can be spotted through its 20 listening antennas above the cliffs. France has its own network, known as Frenchelon, under the General Directorate for External Security (DGSE), which includes several bases in France and its overseas territories.

But unlike these, Israel’s spy facility at Urim remained invisible for decades.


Also see this report AT

Caught! Mossad Paid By U.S. To Spy On “Dissidents,” Tea Party, Environmentalists


  1. nader paul kucinich gravel mckinney said,

    September 17, 2010 at 23:47

    extortion blackmail bribery

    awake from your slumber
    get ’em with the numbers

  2. September 18, 2010 at 17:10

    […] PAYING ISRAEL TO SPY ON YOU… « Desertpeace. […]

  3. peter vojta said,

    September 18, 2010 at 18:13

    Sophisticated apparatus of “todays universal gestapo” for everybody to wake up and prepare for final defeat of this “Monster nearly behind control” with massive arsenal of WMD and colonial ideology /leaving only the “bloody trail/ from the moment it was born to course distress for Humanity. Either people of World unite against this Satanism, or horrors of wars will spread through whole planet… Or, perhaps for scriptures to be fulfilled, all above has to happened before Almighty will destroy this “Evil entity” for benefit of mankind….Only then people of the World will be able to work on some UNIVERSAL MORAL CODEX and start “Era of Universal Peace”…. peter czech


    September 19, 2010 at 03:34

    Governor Rendell made a huge mistake by authorizing such a blatant act of TREASON while on his watch, but today as I was driving, I was thinking about all the GOP assholes in Pennsylvania who want his ass roasted for doing EXACTLY WHAT THEY AUTHORIZED BUSH TO DO WITH THE PATRIOT ACT.

    The dangers of this kind of State sponsored, not Federally sponsored illegal surveillance, is that it means that ANY MOSSAD AGENT can set up a shingle on a building, hire some firm to run his paperwork thru the Secretary of State’s office, and get legitimized without any significant oversight by any judicial body of any sort. And since the Jonathan Pollard episode shows that this is the de-facto LAST ISRAELI SPY to ever face any sort of punishment for spying, essentially this means that MOSSAD can set up more of these in any State of the Union, and until someone finds the money trail, they can get away with being a de-facto Israeli Intelligence Unit or MOSSAD/SAYANIM gang here on U.S. soil, without any fear of legal retribution of any kind.

    It’ll be interesting to see where this goes with GOP trying to prosecute Rendell for dong exactly what they authorized George W. Bush to do with the PATRIOT ACT and it’s revisions to the F.I.S.A. act.

    Long ago the U.S. lost it’s fake democracy to Orwellian ‘OBIT’ style electronic spying (see The Outer Limits: O.B.I.T.) that, when allowed to go unimpeded, can and will destroy the very fabric of our society.

    Israel can and will get away with more of this, and in fact, this is just the tip of the iceberg, as some people in the government have alluded to the FUSION CENTERS having been MOSSAD/ISRAEL setup organizations in the states, and these were quickly swept under the rug, like the Missouri case, as just being a bunch of good old boys having fun. Far from it, it was MOSSAD agents who set up those fusion centers in the States, under a guise of legitimate law-enforcement functions. They were strictly drift nets to collect information on politicians and citizens for the purpose of blackmailing them and coercion. No more, no less.

    Israel has a very active and intensive MOSSAD base in the U.S., and the U.S., via the F.B.I., protects it’s ability to spy on American’s with total, utter IMPUNITY.

  5. September 19, 2010 at 10:06

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Spy Guy, SteveScott, سحر, Ambrosius Macrobius, Kelly and others. Kelly said: PAYING ISRAEL TO SPY ON YOU…: Massive Israel spy base exposed A French periodical has revealed th… #flotilla #israel […]

  6. JB said,

    September 22, 2010 at 22:27

    Good read, it makes me laugh how much surveillance exists.
    But who watches the watchers

  7. Jay said,

    September 23, 2010 at 00:42

    There is one other facility in Israel that many have probably not heard of up on the border with the Golan heights for the purpose of keeping track of Russian and Iranian movements toward Israel. Christians and prophecy buffs expect that any day now. Our tour guide in 1988 was a man by the name of Zvi. Great guy. Ex military and diplomatic service. He showed us much of Israel. He said, “Jay, remember when you get married, fat wife is best. That way she keep you warm in the winter and shady in the summer.” Wish there was some way to know for sure that the current leadership in Israel has not been bribed or blackmailed into selling out its own people. I’m for Israel when the real fight starts.

  8. September 23, 2010 at 20:50

    […] Paying Israel To Spy On You […]

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