Cyber Wars Hit Ynet


Pro-Hamas cyber militants waged Web war last Friday, when they rerouted visitors to an anti-Israel propaganda site.

The Morocco-based Islamic group — which calls itself “Team Evil” — hacked into an Israeli Multinational Registration Service Provider (RSP) called DomainTheNet, redirecting Web surfers from newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth’s English site and from Bank Discount’s Web portal to hate media hosted in Japan. Instead of finding Gaza updates by Israeli reporters, browsers encountered a series of photos and captions that equated Palestinians and Iraqis to victims of the Holocaust, persecuted by Israel and the United States. These Western offenders, they wrote, “will be rotting in hell and cannot escape the punishment of God.” Beneath photos of slain Palestinians in Gaza, tortured prisoners in Abu Ghraib and anti-Zionist Neturei Karta Jews, the group posted maps of Palestinian territories formerly and currently occupied by Israel.

“Somehow they got in this server,” said Yon Feder, the editor-in-chief of Yedioth Internet and, emphasizing that Team Evil did not hack directly into the Ynet site. “They tracked down the Ynetnews address and they changed it into another address, which led the readers into their page in Japan.”

According to a Ynet interview with a Team Evil spokesperson back in 2006, the group is made up of Moroccan youths, all under the age of 20, who notoriously hacked Israeli Web sites in June of that year in response to Israel’s “Summer Rains” Gaza operation. In the 2009 rendition, the hackers target the same “offender” as before and advocate the demise of Zionism — otherwise known as a “malignant cancer tumor.”

“Once we realized what was going on, [DomainTheNet] just changed the address — they blocked any further options,” Feder said, noting that the Registration Service Provider took several hours to clean out Ynet’s various servers throughout the world. “Now [hackers] won’t be able to change any of Ynet’s addresses without having written permission. There’s no way now for any Arab hackers to change any of our addresses again.”

The hack attacks are just one slice of a widespread online psychological battle that coincides with the Gaza warfare. On social networking site, for example, members vehemently protest and advocate Israel’s Gaza invasion, verbally assaulting each other until Facebook monitors remove comments that have been reported as offensive.

While Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg aims to foster dialogue and hopefully peace between Middle Eastern youth, his site has been censoring posts and groups that even contain the words “Gaza” or “Palestine,” Gawker reported. One group, entitled “F— Israel in all world’s language” still had nearly 5,000 members by Tuesday afternoon and cursed Israel’s existence in 47 languages.

Though editors like Feder approach such online attacks as serious obstacles, they continually bounce back by publishing wartime articles from the Israeli point of view.

“They find a way to expose their point of view about the Israeli-Palestinian crisis, specifically in Gaza, just by showing the pictures and the maps,” Feder said. “In that sense it is effective, but I can’t say that it has a real dominant effect on the opinion of the readers.”