Arabs unify in ‘cyber-war’ against Israel

Hackers crash Jewish state’s most high-profile websites

Ranwa Yehia

Daily Star staff

Arab internet users all over the world succeeded in crippling two major Israeli websites on Wednesday in an attempt to counter-attack Israel’s efforts to overload Hizbullah websites.

Alerted by an article published in The Daily Star on Tuesday detailing how Israelis have established a site to attack Hizbullah’s, Arab users began a counter-offensive. By 1pm Wednesday, the main Israeli government website ( and the Israeli Foreign Ministry’s website ( had been downed by hackers.

The Jerusalem Post website issued a report at 2.10pm confirming that the Israeli Foreign Ministry website was down.

“Spam (overloading) and hacker assaults have also been detected on a number of other government sites as well as the IDF (Israel Defense Force) website. Ministry sources told Israel Radio the attackers were traced to “Islamic internet sites,” according to the Jerusalem Post.

An Israeli Foreign Ministry official said: “The site itself was not damaged, but at the moment, no one can access it.”

The official said the website attack could be traced to a “pro-Palestinian and pro-Shiite Muslim” website in the US that urged internet users to flood the Foreign Ministry site.

Several local internet service providers (ISPs) had published The Daily Star article early Wednesday. Activity was detected soon afterward, with the article being widely circulated through e-mail.

Chat rooms frequented by Arab users throughout the world were also mobilized, with information about how to attack Israeli websites posted and updates on which websites have already been targeted.

“If we continue like this, we should arrive at a time when an Israeli website is crippled every hour. This is our new battle,” said one internet user who, like others interviewed, requested anonymity.

Another internet programmer said that the attack against Israeli websites was more professional than the attack staged by Israeli supporters over the past two weeks to cripple Hizbullah websites.

“While the Israelis and their supporters simply overloaded Hizbullah websites and those related to the resistance and intifada to eventually cripple them, our attack was destructive,” he said.

The programmer explained that Lebanese hackers detected the security loophole on the Israeli websites, allowing them to have full control over all data on these sites.

“Hence, all data was deleted,” the programmer said.

Another difference is that while it requires thousands of Israeli supporters to overload a Hizbullah or resistance related website, it can take one person using one single dial-up connection to hack and crash an Israeli website.

“Both are illegal, but this is war,” the programmer said.

By 10pm Wednesday, the two Israeli websites were still down.

The Jerusalem Post reported earlier Wednesday that “the newest Arab target is Israel’s virtual government.”

The English-language daily quoted an Israeli Foreign Ministry official as saying that the ministry’s site was “neutralized for several hours late Monday night by a flood of intentional web traffic, most likely e-mail messages and requests.”

The attack has caused the near-total collapse of Israel’s ISP system, according to the Jerusalem Post.

Arab internet users are making sure they stage their attacks from individual PCs or internet cafes to reduce the possibilities of an Israeli counter-attack that would cripple their systems.

One such person, identifying himself as Walid, said he intended to hack the Knesset server late Wednesday night. “We’ll target and hack Israeli websites one by one. This will continue,” he said.

Walid added that the attacks may get fiercer, with an e-mail war between Israel and Arabs seeing an exchange of viruses designed to crash systems.

More websites are being built to attack Israeli sites. One is Its front page has Hizbullah’s logo with the word “UNITY.”

Similar to an earlier website,, it instructs users to target Israeli websites by pressing on a button that would initiate hits on these sites every second in an attempt to overload and eventually cripple them.

An e-mail circulated about the website urges users to log on and help defend Hizbullah.

Hackers have since broken into a Hizbullah website which was downed last week,, and replaced its home page with an image of an Israeli flag and an instrumental recording of “Hatikva,” the Israeli national anthem.

The website’s front page said: “This page was uploaded to protest against the Arabic attacks in the past few days.”