Hacker group Anonymous has launched a massive attack named #OpIsrael on almost 700 Israeli websites, protesting against Operation Pillar of Defense in Gaza. Israeli media confirmed the group’s move.
The hackers reportedly took down websites ranging from high-profile governmental structures such as the Foreign Ministry to local tourism companies’ pages.
The biggest attack as of now has been the Israeli Foreign Ministry’s international development program, titled Mashav. Anonymous announced on Twitter they’ve hacked into the program’s database, with the website remaining inaccessible at the moment.
“There is [sic] so many defaced Israeli websites right now, that we just made a list of them,” Anonymous tweeted.
The hacktivists also took down the Israeli President’s official website and the blog of the country’s Defense Force, www.idfblog.com, posting the news on Twitter using their infamous #TANGO DOWN hashtag.
The Jerusalem Post has confirmed the group’s assault, including the attack on the Foreign Ministry’s website, as well as those of Kadima party, Bank of Jerusalem, and Tel Aviv Municipality. The latter is online as of now. Among other functions, it provides residents with directions to bomb shelters. Meanwhile, the majority of the web pages that were taken down were blank, but some showed pro-Palestinian images and messages, Jerusalem Post reported.
It was mentioned, however, that most of the 663 pages on the list were subdomains of the same site, and many proved to be still online and functioning properly.
Most of the sites were simply unavailable, but others displayed pro-Palestinian images and messages. One site whose front page was replaced with an image of a man wearing a Palestinian kaffiye, displayed a message reading: “This attack is in response to the Injustice against the Palestinian people.”
Overnight, the group claimed 9,000 websites were taken down, but the actual number proved to be fewer than that.
From the very beginning of the Israeli offensive, Anonymous has avidly supported the Palestinian people. On Wednesday, they said in a press statement, “For far too long, Anonymous has stood by with the rest of the world and watched in despair the barbaric, brutal and despicable treatment of the Palestinian people in the so called ‘Occupied Territories’ by the Israel Defense Force.”
Amid the conflict, which has already claimed at least 33 lives, 30 of them Palestinians, Anonymous also pledged to help those who are at the heart of the conflict: many Palestinians were left without electricity, and consequently, without internet access. The hackers gave instructions on their Twitter account for residents to get reconnected: “If you have friends in Gaza who still have phone, but need internet, give them these dial-up numbers and instructions: http://pastebin.com/6dYQruHu.”
Anonymous put together a “Gaza Care Package,” which contains instructions in Arabic and English to assist Palestinians in the event that the Israeli government cuts their internet connection. Plus, the package includes information on evading IDF surveillance, along with first aid information. The collective encouraged Palestinians to download and share the package with others.
Anonymous members also contacted Israeli forces directly. A tweet from an Anonymous account to an IDF spokesperson warned, “It would be wise of you to expect us”, while a statement on their webpage said, “Stop bombing Gaza. Millions of Israelis and Palestinians are lying awake, exposed and terrified.”