Wednesday, April 24, 2019

‘Hacktivist‘ collective unleashes third annual attack against Israel

By Claire Matsunami - April 15, 2014
Section: [Main News]
Tags: [Anonymous hacker collective]

On Monday 7 April the 'hacktivist’ organization Anonymous unleashed a day long cyber-attack on a broad series of Israeli websites as part of the third year of OpIsrael.  The attack specifically targeted a list of Israeli governmental websites, made public on the eve of the event.

This year’s OpIsrael attack succeeded in temporarily shutting down several websites and defacing others with pro-Palestinian slogans, among them were the official website of the Israeli President, the Israeli Police and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, according to the OpIsrael Facebook page and Times Magazine. An update on the website OpIsraelBirthday, set up by Anonymous affiliated hacker AnonGhost, stated that over 400 websites were successfully breached. All websites allegedly targeted by the group are now back up and running. 

On Sunday 6 April, one day before the attack, Anonymous gave Israel warning via the popular video-sharing website, YouTube. In the video, a computerized voice reads a message to the government of Israel detailing the reasons behind OpIsrael’s actions: “Your vicious campaigns to attack Palestinian solidarity groups worldwide through censorship and legal wrangling have also NOT gone unnoticed. We see through the propaganda that you circulate through the mainstream media and lobby through the political establishment. We will NOT allow you to maintain these attacks on a sovereign country based upon a campaign of lies. Your games of deception will now be met by the wrath of elite cyber squadrons from around the world Your grip over humanity will weaken and man will be closer to freedom.”

The video calls upon cyber activists around the world to “hack, deface, hijack, database leak, admin takeover, and DNS terminate the Israeli Cyberspace by any means necessary.”

OpIsrael has taken place on 7 April for 3 years now.  It was first launched in 2012 during an Israeli assault on Gaza, initially infiltrating over 700 websites and subsequently publishing the personal information of approximately 5000 government workers. 

In 2013 the coordinated cyber attack targeted various Israeli sites to shut them down or deface them, including the Ministry of Education and the Bureau of Statistics.The operation had minimal success, but as Yitzhak Ben Yisrael of Israeli National Cyber Bureau explained to The Guardian in 2013, “Anonymous doesn't have the skills to damage the country's vital infrastructure. And if that was its intention, then it wouldn't have announced the attack ahead of time. It wants to create noise in the media about issues that are close to its heart.”

Mohammad Rub, Professor of Media Studies at Birzeit University, spoke with Palestine Monitor about the way that cyber activism is changing the frontier for information dispersal.  Operations like OpIsrael, explained Rub, are “challenging and breaking the silence of the mainstream media.”  

He also believes that this is an effective way for international individuals to stand in solidarity with Palestinians, despite the fact that these activists aren’t physically present, saying “I think this is an effective way to support the Palestinian issue because it raises awareness and can potentially change public understanding towards the Palestinian narrative.”  

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