More than 44 million hacking attempts have been made on Israeli government websites since Israel began its air raids on the Gaza Strip almost a week ago.
The figures, released by the Israeli government, indicated that attempts on defence-related sites had been the highest, while 10 million attempts had been made on the site of Israel’s president, seven million on the country’s foreign ministry and three million on the site of the prime minister.
Israeli Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said just one hacking attempt was successful on a site he did not want to name, but it was up and running after 10 minutes of downtime.
Anonymous, an international group of cyberactivists, has posted online a list of nearly 700 Israeli websites it claims it has targeted, defaced and disrupted in response to the latest airstrikes on Gaza.
One of the most major targets of the “OpIsrael” campaign was the foreign ministry’s international development programme, Mashav.
In an announcement on twitter, Anonymous claimed to have tampered with the website’s internal database.
On Thursday morning, Anonymous issued a statement that called on other hackers to help disable and deface websites associated or belonging to the Israeli government or military.
Kadima Party site hacked
Among the group’s other high-profile targets were the websites of Israel’s Kadima Party, which was taken offline shortly after being hacked, and Bank of Jerusalem.
Most of the sites that were hacked appeared to be unavailable, but others displayed pro-Palestinian images and messages.
An Israeli ministry spokesman says that while the attacks have come from around the world, most have been from Israel and the Palestinian territories.
“The ministry’s computer division will continue to block the millions of cyber attacks,” Steinitz said. “We are enjoying the fruits of our investment in recent years in developing computerised defence systems.”
Steinitz has instructed his ministry to operate in emergency mode to counter attempts to undermine government sites.
Both sides in the Gaza conflict, but particularly Israel, are embracing the social media as one of their tools of warfare.
The Israeli army has established a presence on nearly every platform available, while Palestinian fighters are active on twitter.
“The war is taking place on three fronts. The first is physical, the second is on the world of social networks and the third is cyber,” said Carmela Avner, Israel’s chief information officer.