Israel is not only a U.S. ally, and as such it shares intimate access to American intelligence, but also a target for U.S. spying, the New York Times reported on Saturday.
The report, citing papers leaked by former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, describes the close ties between the NSA and Israel's Military Intelligence Unit 8200.
Israel's signals intelligence-gathering unit, it said, is provided with raw eavesdropping data and offers its ally the same in return.
But sharing information with Israel did not exempt it from being spied on by the United States. According to the New York Times, the documents say the NSA was tracking "high priority Israeli military targets," such as Israeli drones. Another Israeli military target specified in the files is the Black Sparrow missile system – a target missile simulating a ballistic missile at high altitude.
The system was recently used by Israel during an anti-missile defense exercise, while the U.S. was preparing for possible military action against Syria.
A Washington Post report based on Snowden's documents revealed in August that U.S. intelligence agencies showed an active interest both in America’s friends and foes. The confidential files stated that the U.S. counterintelligence operations “are strategically focused against priority targets of China, Russia, Iran, Cuba and Israel.”
Saturday's New York Times report also revealed that the NSA files show how American agencies have spied on world leaders. One target of Operation Dreadnought was Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei. Another was United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.