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Ex-Shin Bet analysts recruited to fight coronavirus within Israeli-Arab society

It is difficult to understand why the Israeli authorities are recruiting ex-Shin Bet analysts to participate in an information campaign planned to combat the coronavirus in the Israeli-Arab community.
Palestinian demonstrators are separated by Israeli police barriers from Israelis celebrating Jerusalem Day, that marks the anniversary of the "reunification" of the holy city after Israel captured the Arab eastern sector from Jordan during the 1967 Six-Day War,  outside Damascus Gate in Jerusalem's old city on June 5, 2016. 

Israel occupied east Jerusalem in 1967 and later annexed it in a move never recognized by the international community. / AFP / AHMAD GHARABLI        (Photo credit should read AHMAD GHA

Journalist Yoav Etiel reported Oct. 4 on the Walla! News website that the Israel Defense Forces' Home Front Command is recruiting “experienced” former Shin Bet operatives “who specialized in the Arab-Israeli community,” to participate in an information campaign planned to combat the coronavirus in the Arab community. According to the official announcement, “The campaign will be charged with formulating a status report for each of the different sectors of the population in order to help the relevant divisions in the Home Front Command develop appropriate courses of action and formulate messages targeting these specific communities."

This remarkable statement certainly raises some questions. For example, why would the Home Front Command not approach actual Arab citizens in its search for candidates with the requisite skills, as well as familiarity with the Arab community? Why would it prefer, instead, to turn to former members of the Shin Bet, an organization that has nothing to do with civil affairs in the Arab society — an organization whose very mention evokes negative connotations among the Arab population? After all, the Shin Bet is an internal security agency that closely identifies with the tracking and tailing of Arab citizens, whom it sees as posing a potential threat to the country. On a more mundane level, it is responsible for the humiliation that Arab citizens undergo at Ben Gurion airport, as reported in an earlier article. Why, then, would the Home Front Command insist on relegating responsibility to former members of the Shin Bet? Is this some covert attempt by Israel to exploit the coronavirus to collect intelligence about its Arab citizens?

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