Hizballah names two Israeli Internet “spies” amid horse-trading over Lebanese cabinet
Hizballah high-up Ibrahim al Amin claimed Tuesday night, Sept. 1, that he knew the names of two Israelis who he said had been covertly diverting Lebanese Internet network traffic through the Haifa exchange center in Israel. The names he mentioned were Jerry Orenstein and Ronen Neuhaus, both of whom he said are back in Israel.
According to debkafile‘s sources, Orenstein is an ultra-religious is business man whose firms in Israel, the UK and Cyprus deal with a variety of trades – from Internet and telecommunications to organizing European tours for ultra-religious travelers.
Ronen Neuhaus is the Middle East director of Tinet, formerly known as Tiscali International Network, which operates in Scandinavia, the Eastern Mediterranean and Africa. As such, he has vast experience in the telecommunications industry, specifically Internet Service Providers.
Hizballah sources claim that the pair, using their Cyprus firms as their base of operations and a Jordanian middle man called Nasser Farhan, persuaded a number of Lebanese Internet companies that running their services through the Haifa Exchange offered them a considerable saving of expense.
debkafile first broke the story of the Lebanese data center on Mt. Barukh found to be routed to an exchange center in Haifa on Aug. 14. To read the story click HERE.
Hizballah now claims that among the users of the clandestine network were the presidential palace, the defense department and select security and financial institutions in Beirut. Senior Hizballah officials and the UN peacekeepers HQ were also offered the cut-rate service. If this information is correct, Israeli intelligence was able to tap into the most sensitive Internet correspondence from the highest Lebanese official quarters.
According to our sources, since the affair broke, it has been used as a political football among the various parties negotiating the formation of a unity government in Beirut. The incumbent communications minister is Jubran Basil, brother-in law of former president Michel Aoun, who is currently Hizballah’s senior ally.
This gave designated prime minister Saad Hariri good reason to veto Basil as a cabinet member.
Hizballah is paying him back with leaked reports about the alleged Israeli Internet spy ring and innuendo suggesting the pro-Western Hariri is an Israeli intelligence collaborator.