Anonymous launches massive cyber assault on Israel

Hacktivist group Anonymous has launched a second massive cyber attack against Israel, dubbed #OpIsrael. Israel declared there haven’t been any major disruptions so far.

Anonymous threatened to “disrupt and erase Israel from cyberspace” in protest over its mistreatment of Palestinians.

Dozens of Israeli websites were unavailable as of early Sunday, with one of the latest being the Israeli Ministry of Defense online page, according to Anonymous on Twitter.

However, the country’s officials indicated that the disruptions haven’t been serious.

The Israel Police website had difficulties loading for only a short time before going back to normal. The same went for the Defense Ministry page, which was hacked for a few hours, and then restored.

Anonymous pointed out on Saturday night that they had shut down several government sites, including those of the Prime Minister’s Office, the Israel Securities Authority, the Immigrant Absorption Ministry and the Central Bureau of Statistics, but the government denied the claim, Haaretz reported.

The hackers also released a list of email addresses and credit card numbers, reportedly lifted from the online catalog of Israel Military, a privately-owned business that sells military surplus, Haaretz reported. Israel Military officials indicated that the information made public did not come from its site.

Yitzhak Ben Yisrael of the government’s National Cyber Bureau told AP that hackers had mostly failed to shut down key sites.

“So far it is as was expected, there is hardly any real damage,” Ben Yisrael indicated. “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 of time. It wants to create noise in the media about issues that are close to its heart.”

Meanwhile, an official from the Hamas movement praised the attack.

“God bless the minds and the efforts of the soldiers of the electronic battle,” Ihab Al- Ghussian, Gaza’s chief government spokesman, wrote on his official Facebook page, AP reported.

A message from a Twitter account linked to Anonymous said Israeli Defense Forces troops were arresting suspected hackers, a report the IDF spokesman also denied, according to Haaretz.

Israeli hackers have reportedly prepared an answer to the Anonymous cyber attack, penetrating the website associated with the campaign against Israel – opisrael.com. Instead of reading about Anonymous’ anti-Israel views, those visiting the page on Sunday morning were instead presented with a pro-Israel banner and a long list of facts regarding the legitimacy of Israel and the history of the Jewish people, according to Israel Today.

In a video message posted on YouTube, Anonymous said that on April 7, “elite cyber-squadrons from around the world have decided to unite in solidarity with the Palestinian people against Israel as one entity to disrupt and erase Israel from cyberspace.”

Addressing the Israeli government, the group stated: “You have NOT stopped your endless human right violations. You have NOT stopped illegal settlements. You have NOT respected the ceasefire. You have shown that you do NOT respect international law.”

Earlier on Saturday, an Anonymous affiliated group identifying itself as The N4m3le55 cr3w announced that they “have gathered 600 websites and 100 plus servers we will be attacking” throughout Israel. The list includes banks, schools, businesses and a host of prominent government websites. “That is just our targets,” the group warned.

“We cannot speak on what the rest of Anonymous will be attacking but we can guarantee it will be in the 1000′s.”

The massive cyber attack falls on the eve of Holocaust Memorial Day. Anonymous has accused the Israeli government of mistreating its own citizens, violating treaties, attacking its neighbors, threatening to shut down the Internet in Gaza and ignoring “repeated warnings” about human rights abuses.

On Friday, Israeli radio reported that scores of large organizations had closed their websites to shield them from hacker attacks.

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