Cyberwar, and the Jester scoring 8

The battle into which Israel has been provoked by the terrorist organization Hamas is being fought (we say “is” because the truce is nugatory) with computers as well as armament.

From Bloomberg Businessweek, 11/19/12:

Knowledge of computer code is proving to be as important to Israel’s conflict with Hamas as the Iron Dome system intercepting rockets from the Gaza Strip.

In a government building in Jerusalem, technicians in civilian clothes sit in front of a bank of screens, trying to deflect millions of attempted attacks on Israel’s government websites. A map on the wall shows sites where virtual attacks are being carried out around the world, updating every few seconds. Israel and the Palestinian territories stand out with a big red flame. Extra workers are drafted in.

Hamas is running a campaign called OpIsrael.

“From the very beginning, we called on Palestinian software technicians in Gaza and all over the world to use technology to undermine Israeli websites and pages,” Islam Shahwan, the spokesman for the Hamas Ministry of Interior in Gaza, said in an interview from the enclave.

The clicking of keyboards and mice has already become a hallmark of the conflict’s latest flare up that started on Nov. 14 as much as the sound of rocket fire. Aided by supporters abroad and speedy Internet access, the virtual battle is intensifying in tandem with the air attacks as Israelis and Palestinians try to disrupt the flow of information and hack each other’s propaganda machines.

More than 44 million attempts were made to bring down state websites, [Israeli] Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said on Nov. 18, standing in the government’s cyber war-room.

“Beyond the main military battlefield, there is a secondary arena,” Steinitz said. “Israel has been under unprecedented cyber attack.”

An Israeli air strike on Nov. 19 hit a 15-floor office building in downtown Gaza City used by the television stations of Hamas …  The second floor of the complex that houses an Internet and computer services company was also damaged, cutting connection to subscribers.

The building was targeted because of the presence of senior terrorist members there, Israeli army spokeswoman Avital Leibovich said. One of the militants killed in the assault was Ramez Harb, head of Islamic Jihad’s media operations, who Israel said was responsible for propaganda for the group.

Its armed wing, called Saraya al-Quds Brigades, said on its website on Nov. 17 that its intelligence department “managed to penetrate data for 5,000 cellular phones belonging to senior Israeli army officers and got their personal data.”

Sounds impressive, but what did the terrorists do with their penetration?

The group used the mined information to send warnings via text message, saying “we will make Gaza a graveyard for you and your soldiers and we will turn Tel Aviv in to a massive flame,” according to the website. …

Israeli hackers used their penetration to send a more practical warning:

 The Hamas Interior Ministry said on Nov. 18 by text message that Israeli hackers had penetrated and paralyzed its site, and told Gaza residents to seek necessary information on its Facebook page.

The same day, an Israeli speaking broken Arabic on behalf of the Israeli army cut into the transmissions of Hamas and Islamic Jihad radio stations to warn Gaza residents to “keep away from Hamas infrastructure and don’t help the terrorists.”

Later, from Softpedia, by Eduard Kovacs, 11/22/12:

OpIsrael, a campaign launched by hacktivists from all over the world to show support for Palestine, is beginning to fade away. However, during the operation, some pro-Israel hackers have initiated a counteroffensive.

On Monday, an Israeli hacker known as Yourikan leaked the credit card details of several Palestinian users after allegedly breaching the systems of Palnet, one of Palestine’s largest ISPs.

“Say no to Palestine! Say no to terror!” the hacker said after the attack.

His views are shared by the famous hacker known as The Jester, who has been busy over the past few days disrupting Palestinian websites owned or operated by Hamas

The Jester has taken down a forum belonging to Hamas – – that’s allegedly utilized “for radicalizing fighting-age male Palestinians.” He also disrupted, a site utilized by the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigade “to spread propaganda and lies.”

Other targets are, which the hacker describes as being a “HAMAS run TV channel used for spreading propaganda and images of bodies being dragged through streets [by Hamas – see below]”,  and

All the aforementioned sites are currently down and have been in this state for the past couple of days or so.

  • Here’s a surprise:

    Report: Iran moving quickly to re-arm Hamas with rockets


    11/25/2012 09:42

    Israeli intelligence satellites have spied the loading of rockets and other materiel believed to be destined for the Gaza Strip, The Sunday Times reported citing Israeli officials.

    According to the report, Iran began preparing the weapons shipment around the same time Israel and Hamas negotiated cease-fire understandings late last week.

    The shipment is said to include Iranian-made Fajr-5 medium-range rockets, the same model that was fired into the Tel Aviv and Jerusalem areas during Operation Pillar of Defense, according to the Times.

  • liz

    I hope there are some computer Einsteins working for Israel.

    A sad paradox that the human brain can simultaneously embrace knowledge of the most sophisticated workings of modern technology, and belief in the most superstitious, barbaric dredges of our primitive past. The result is worse than any horror movie, creating deranged monsters determined to achieve Armageddon.

    • Oh it may not be as bad as all that… perhaps a bit of underbrush will be cleared away, and a new sense of patriotism instilled in the youth who can be thereafter known as the NEW “greatest generation”;-)

  • Good call posting this. During the conflict msm and even Fox would mention “Cyber attacks” but didn’t go into much detail. I hadn’t spent any time reading into it myself, but very interesting. Computer geeks will get new respect if they can turn their talents in service to country.

    ION looks like Morsi is struggling to complete his and the Muslim Brotherhood’s “meet the new boss…” transition, He might need to cut that deal with Iran sooner, rather than later… US money won’t refocus Egyptian unrest like a Holy War will. Lots of incentive everywhere to move on to phase II.

    • BTW here is an excellent article on Hezbollah by Michael Young of the “Lebanon Daily Star”. He is as close to objective journalism as one will find in the Middle East, and a fountain of insights into the relationships between various groups and factions Therein.

      • This is veeeerrrrryyyyyy interesting:

        Saudi Grand Mufti warns Gulf public against unrest

        By REUTERS

        11/24/2012 15:52

        JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia – Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti, the highest religious authority in the birthplace of Islam, issued a condemnation of demonstrations that appeared to blame Iran for unrest among Shi’ite Muslims in Gulf Arab states.

        “The Arab Gulf is being targeted by attacks seeking to discredit religion and eliminate the material interests and wealth it holds,” Al-Watan newspaper quoted Sheikh Abdulaziz bin Abdullah Al al-Sheikh as saying in his Friday sermon in Riyadh.

        Al-Sheikh warned people not to follow “enemies” who called on them to protest, saying they aimed to divide the people of the region.

        Unrest has erupted among majority Shi’ites in Bahrain and minority Shi’ites in Eastern Saudi Arabia in the last two years. Sunni authorities have repeatedly blamed Shi’ite Iran, which denies involvement.

        Tension has also run high over Iran’s disputed nuclear program, which Gulf Arab rulers fear could help Iran acquire nuclear weapons.

        • In lighter news:

          France slated to open first gay mosque


          11/25/2012 02:02

          Muhammad Ludovic Lütfi Zahed, a gay French-Algerian man, is slated to open the first gay mosque at the end of November.

          The Turkish daily newspaper Hurriyet first reported last week on the plan to establish the mosque. Zahed told the Turkish paper, “In normal mosques, women have to sit in the back seats and wear a headscarf and gay men are afraid of both verbal and physical aggression. After performing the Hajj, I realized that a mosque for gays was a must for gay Muslims who want to perform their prayers.”

          The Jerusalem Post reported earlier this year on Zahed’s marriage to Qiyam al-Din, a South African, during a ceremony outside Paris in February, approved by an imam in France. The men had previously married in South Africa, where same-sex marriage is legal, but the French government under then-president Nicolas Sarkozy refused to recognize it.

          Zahed told Hurriyet reporter Arzu Cakır Morin that “we will use a hall in a Buddhist chapel, which will be opened on November 30.”

          The new mosque will not segregate men from women and will conduct joint gender prayers, noted the Hurriyet.

          • liz

            They will probably soon become a target for other Muslims, who will have to perform an “honor” bombing.