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Labor Party legally challenged over recruitment of ‘former’ Israeli spy Kaplan

Assaf Kaplan's role in Unit 8200 would have involved collecting sensitive and compromising information on Palestinian civilians with a view to blackmailing them into cooperation

The Labor Party is facing a legal challenge by one of its own members following its recruitment of a “former” Israeli spy to oversee critical aspects of its social media operations.

Earlier this year, it was reported that a “former” officer in Israel’s infamous Unit 8200, one Assaf Kaplan, had been recruited to the role of “Social Listening and Organizing Manager”, which essentially involves monitoring online conversations about party policies and positions.

 The London-based law firm Bindmans is acting on behalf of a British-Palestinian Labor member, Adnan Hmidan, who has complained that Kaplan’s appointment could potentially place party members – particularly those sympathetic to the Palestinian cause – at risk of surveillance and associated risks.

Hmidan told the London-based Middle East Eye (March 03):  “I am very concerned that the Labour Party has recruited a former Israeli spy to a position that involves monitoring the social media accounts of its members including those that are British Palestinian, supportive of Palestine or opposed to the occupation of Palestine".

Hmidan protested that the Labor Party had failed to “confirm what steps, if any, have been taken to limit the risks to these members [of Palestinian origin or supportive of the Palestinian cause] or to ensure that our data is not processed without our consent”.

For its part, Bindmans has written to the labor Party asserting that it is “very likely that Mr Kaplan was involved in the unlawful coercive surveillance practices” of Unit 8200, or failing that he was “at the very least” aware of them.

The notorious Unit 8200 is widely accused – including by its own former members – of collecting compromising private information on Palestinian citizens living in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip with a view to pressuring or blackmailing them into collaborating with Israeli intelligence services.

In a sign of the importance of Kaplan’s role, he works inside the parliamentary office of Labor leader, Keir Starmer, as opposed to the party’s headquarters in southwest London.

Hitherto Starmer has resisted calls by senior Labor officials as well as ordinary staff at party headquarters to remove Kaplan from his sensitive role.



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