Websites for the Israeli military and intelligence services were down on Sunday, the start of the Israeli work-week. The outage followed hacktvist group Anonymous joining calls against the interception of aid flotillas bound for Gaza with a warning video, all which Israel ignored.
The office of Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Natenyahu was quick to rubbish claims that Anonymous was in any way attached to the shut-down of the Mossad and Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) websites, two of the country’s most feared and respected security apparatus.
“Israeli government websites crashed today because of a server malfunction, not as a result of a cyber attack,” Ofir Gendelman, a spokesperson for Netanyahu posted on Twitter.
The shutdown came only two days after the video warning against any interception of the flotillas was posted on video-sharing site YouTube by Anonymous.
As it has always done, since the first Gaza Freedom Flotilla which saw the death of nine of those on board, Israel ignored the warnings from Anonymous and pleas from supporters of the flotillas and intercepted them.
Organisers of the flotillas have said that they merely seek to deliver much-needed supplies to Gaza which is blockaded by the IDF. The Israeli position, however, has been that there is no need for the supplies, and there are means by which the flotillas can get the aid to Gaza, without breaking the blockade.
Due to the amorphous and secretive nature of Anonymous, it is difficult to ascertain whether a video purported to be posted by hacktivists, can be seen as genuine. Even though this video does bear many of the Anonymous YouTube video hallmarks, it cannot be definitively seen as a credible threat, with many others, such as the warning video to the people of South Africa, coming to naught.
Equally, however, Anonymous, which has gained notoriety for being able to bring down websites for powerful trans-national organisations such as MasterCard, has also successfully brought about the shutdown of government websites.
The Iranian government has fallen foul of Anonymous facing its signature DDoS attacks on key Iranian government websites and the sites of organisations linked to Iran. Websites of the current Syrian regime, which has been bloodily suppressing Arab Spring protests, have also been successfully been breached by Anonymous.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has increasingly been played out on the internet. Following the contentious admittance of Palestine to UN arts and cultural agency UNESCO as a full state, which Israel vehemently opposed, cyber-attacks saw the internet being cut off in both Palestinian territories of the West Bank and Gaza.