As Israelis and Jews prepared to commemorate Holocaust Remembrance Day, various hacker groups launched a campaign on Sunday to “wipe Israel off the Internet.”
While described by some hackers as an attack against Israel for its treatment of the Palestinians, the campaign was specifically timed with Holocaust Remembrance Day and has featured strong anti-Semitic rhetoric, including Holocaust denial.
For example, a group calling itself Anonymous Arab posted an Arabic-language YouTube video on April 6 calling for the removal the ‘Zionist Entity’ from the internet.” The video says there is “no proof” that the Holocaust took place – “you have fabricated with your partners” - and that Israel is “unworthy to exist in your current form.”
“So long as your regime exists,” the video says, “peace shall be hindered.”
In addition, the Lebanon-based satellite television station Al Mayadeen aired an interview with a representative of Al Falaga, a Tunisian hacker group that participated in the cyber-attack. In the interview, the representative said, “We chose this day because it’s the memory of the Holocaust when the Jews were burned by the hands of Hitler and today they burn by our hands.” The interview was posted later on the Facebook page of Al Falaga.
According to initial reports, the cyber-attack, which was announced several months ago as “OpIsrael2,” affected some Israeli government and defense sites, but failed to bring them down.
Several hacker groups participated in this campaign. A pro-Hamas hacker group, Al-Qassam Electronic Brigades, posted a YouTube video on April 7 that included what appears to be a recording of a hacking operation against the website of one of Israel’s political parties, Kadima.
The Moroccan Ghosts, a politically motivated hackers group that has previously targeted the websites of Jewish institutions in the U.S., published on their Facebook page a long list of hacked websites that they claim are either Israeli are Jewish-operated.
Some of the websites hacked by the Moroccan Ghosts were defaced with anti-Israel slurs and loaded with a media player that recited verses from the Quran. Despite the claims that they targeted Israeli and Jewish-operated websites, some of the listed sites have no apparent affiliation with Israel or Jews, and may have been included because they were an easy-to-hack and serve to inflate the impact of the cyber-attack.
In addition, several pro-Hamas websites, Facebook pages and other hacker forums posted threads claiming hacking operations against Jews and Israelis worldwide.
The first OpIsrael took place during Israel’s Operation Pillar of Defense in Gaza last November, when hackers targeted, and in some cases defaced, various Israeli websites.