One of the largest and most important intelligence bases in the world is located near Kibbutz Urim in the Negev, not far from Beersheba, French magazine Le Monde Diplomatique reported recently.
The base's existence was kept secret until now.
According to the report, the base has numerous antennas and satellite dishes used by intelligence Unit 8200 to eavesdrop on telephone calls and access the e-mail of "governments, international organizations, foreign companies, political groups and individuals" in the Middle East, Asia, Africa and Europe.
The French magazine said one of the base's main purposes is to listen to transmissions from ships passing in the Mediterranean. The base is also the center of intelligence activity that "taps underwater communication cables, mostly in the Mediterranean, connecting Israel with Europe."
The report said the base was one of the largest of its kind in the world.
The magazine quoted a former soldier who served at the base who told Le Monde Diplomatique of powerful computers "programmed to detect certain words and numbers" in phone conversations, emails or other forms of communication.
The deciphered data is relayed for processing to a 8200 base near Herzliya, and then passed on to the Mossad and IDF units, according to the report.
The former soldier said her job was to intercept telephone calls and e-mails in English and French. "It was very interesting work, which centered around locating and identifying the 'gems' out of routine communications," she was quoted by the magazine as saying.