May 23, 2020
Hundreds of mostly unsecured Israeli websites were attacked by Iran-based hackers on Thursday morning, disabling the sites and replacing them with a message “threatening Israel” with “destruction”, local media reported.
The websites of some municipalities and institutions, including the Lake Tiberias Conservation Organization, which is an essential water source to Israel, are among the hacked centers.
“The countdown of Israel destruction has begun since a long time ago,” (sic) reads the warning message in Hebrew and English posted by a group calling itself the “Hackers of Saviour”.
The group’s YouTube channel describes it as hackers set on avenging Israel’s maltreatment of Palestinians.
However, according to Jerusalem Post, the page title was later changed to “Be Ready for a Big Surprise” in Hebrew.
In some of the hacked sites, the Islamic Republic Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s well-known remark in 2015, “Israel will not see the next 25 years”, is reflected.
The images and remarks of the Lebanese Hezbollah’s Secretary-General, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, are seen on some of the hacked pages. The other pages also show a wounded Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, drowning and struggling for his life. In the background, a burning beach, presumably Tel Aviv, and several vessels on fire are seen.
The painting probably refers to one of Hussein Salami’s remarks in May last year, shortly before he was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps. “Practice swimming in the Mediterranean, because you will soon have no choice other than escaping to the sea”, he told Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, at the time.
The Israel National Cyber Bureau (INCB), the government agency responsible for protecting Israel from hacking attacks, confirmed that “a host of Israeli websites were hacked in the morning hours in a suspected Iranian cyber-attack.”
However, INCB asserted that, despite the size of the Thursday attacks, they have been superficial and failed to damage any infrastructure. At the same time, necessary steps were taken to neutralize them, and an investigation into the case was underway.
Some Israeli media have attributed the attacks to Tehran, calling it a move on the eve of Qods Day in the Islamic Republic. Some technology experts, such as the head of cyber intelligence at Check Point, Lutem Finkelstein, have suggested that the Palestinian Hamas movement from Gaza and other Palestinian supporters from Turkey and African countries may be involved. To back his argument, Finkelstein has referred to their history of such actions in recent weeks.
“This is a combined attack that tries not just to harm Israeli sites and to disturb the economy from operating, but also tries to gain personal information from users that enter these sites through control of the users’ cameras, which would allow the recording of personal information and pictures of thousands of Israelis,” digital systems operator at the Zeliger Shomron PR agency, Avitar Gat, told Jerusalem Post.
Earlier last week, Fox News had reported that Iranian hackers attacked Israel’s water network last April. The attack failed, but it surprised Israelis, Fox News said.
According to several reports in U.S. media, Israel retaliated by attacking Port of Shahid Rajaee, southern Iran, on May 9, creating mayhem that severely disrupted ships’ loading and unloading for a couple of days.
Meanwhile, Israel’s Network 13 television reported on Wednesday evening that the disruption by the Israeli attack was continuing and that the cargo of many ships had not yet been unloaded or could not be loaded.
Network 13’s military correspondent, Alon Ben David, said that the Israeli army had used advanced and covert facilities for the electronic attack on the port of Rajaee that had never been used before.
In the meantime, the publication of a poster on the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s official website, which used the phrase “the Final Solution” to the Palestinian issue, has continued in Israel.
Every year on the eve of Qods Day, the last Friday of Ramadan, verbal attacks and tensions between Iran and Israel intensify.