Conflict also a war of the Web

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JERUSALEM, Oct. 26 (JTA) – A new front in the Israeli-Palestinian unrest has emerged: the Internet.

Web sites for the Israeli government and Israel Defense Forces were targeted by hackers this week. In some instances, access to Internet providers whose servers host the sites was disrupted, while in other cases, the assault caused the sites themselves to crash.

The Foreign Ministry and Knesset sites were among those disabled this week.

Israeli officials tracking the situation said it appeared some of the attacks originated in Islamic countries.

A Knesset spokesman was quoted by Israel Radio as saying it appeared the attack on the site had originated in Saudi Arabia and possibly Lebanon.

Though the Knesset site was inaccessible to surfers, Likud Knesset member Michael Eitan, who chairs a parliamentary subcommittee on the Internet, said none of the material on the site was damaged.

“It’s too bad the Internet has turned into a battefield,” Eitan said.

Meanwhile, the IDF said Thursday it had hired the U.S. communications company AT&T to boost its Internet site, which had been overwhelmed by the rise in users and hacking attempts in recent weeks. The IDF site is hosted on a NetVision server, which had been targeted by hackers trying to crash the Israeli sites.

An IDF official said that the site had registered over 140,000 hits from over 100 countries in a week.

Reports said that a private Israeli site that had called for similar attacks on Hezbollah sites had also been affected.

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