In response to recent conflicts in Gaza, hacking groups are mobilizing members in a cyber-campaign to attack Israeli websites. Orchestrating the campaign, the “AnonGhost Team” group announced on July 3 the launch of “Operation Save Gaza,” calling for a massive attack on Israeli websites on July 11.
The group shares a tenuous connection to the Anonymous hacking collective* (hence the “Anon” in “AnonGhost Team”) and takes a pro-Palestinian, anti-Israeli agenda to their cyber-attacks, targeting Israeli websites and servers. Proponents of the Operation Save Gaza campaign, however, have capitalized on the recent Israeli air assaults to drive their message outward to the greater hacking community.
In a three minute video announcing the Operation Save Gaza campaign, the group details various accounts of Israeli aggression and violence toward Palestinians while also reaching out to other hackers to spread awareness of the campaign and join its cause:
We are AnonGhost Team. This is an urgent call to all hackers, human rights organization, activists all around the world, to unite again and start a campaign against Israel, share what is really going on there and expose their terrorist activity to the world.
The group also justifies Palestinian attacks on Israel, claiming:
The act of launching rockets from Gaza sector to Israel is an acceptable and normal reaction against those pigs. That’s called resistance and not terrorism.
Though the date for Operation Save Gaza was announced for July 11, AnonGhost Team has already begun attacking websites as part of the operation. On July 8, the group published a list of defaced pages attacked between July 7 and 8. A tweet by AnonGhost Team provided a link to a Pastebin.com page, titled “OPSAVEGAZA By AnonGhost,” where user "BLACK_CRACKER" listed links to defacement screenshot images from the websites of the State Comptroller of Israel, the Military of Israel, TNN Telecom, and Israel Bar Association. The group also leaked data from the websites, including 85 government emails and passwords.
Moreover, on the following day, AnonGhost Team announced in individual tweets that they had hacked and planted more defacement images on the Israeli websites of Shalon Chemical Industries, Israel's News 24, the Israeli Institute for Consent Arbitration, and government military and technology contractor Mcsira.
Indeed, other Anonymous hackers have taken on similar causes as Operation Save Gaza. "YourAnonNews," a prominent Twitter account with over 1.25 million followers, tweeted a link to a Pastebin.com page containing a template to write to members of the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. The letter makes similar points as AnonGhost Team:
I am writing to you today to demand that all U.S. aid to Israel be stopped. Although collective punishment has gone on for years, this past month Israel has escalated collective punishment tactics on the Palestinian people in the West Bank and Gaza over the loss of three Israeli boys without any proof as to who is responsible.
A YouTube video posted by the “Anonymous Official” account on July 7 further illustrates the mobilization of the hacking community to the Operation Save Gaza campaign. The five minute video criticizes Israel for a “barbaric and inhumane” response to attacks for which there is “no credible evidence to prove that Hamas, or even if the Palestinian people” had any part in. The video, titled “Anonymous – Message to Israel and Palestine," was shared by Anonymous-affiliated accounts on Twitter. It states:
For over a decade, your violation of international law, and your crimes against humanity, have not, gone unnoticed. The oppression you place upon Palestinian territories have angered not only the anonymous collective, but all of mankind.
Anonymous hackers have targeted Israeli websites in past hacking campaigns as well. The annual “Operation Israel”—initiated on April 7, 2012—has persisted for weeks at a time every year. Groups to participate in this campaign, along with AnonGhost Team, have also included Anonymous Syria, Moroccan Hackerz, Algerian Hackers, and Turkish hacking group RedHack. Attacks from this past year under the Operation Israel campaign—from just AnonGhost Team alone—have included the April 7 of 25,000 email credentials from the Israeli Jeep and Toyota websites, and a leak of over 7,000 email addresses from the Israeli Ministry of Health on the same day.
The conflict in Gaza is also being fought online, adding much complexity to the geopolitical dynamics already in place. Now, a grass-roots mobilization of hackers from all over the world are participating in the conflict. Tomorrow will tell how far this outreach tactic worked for the “Operation Save Gaza” campaign and perhaps signify a new, larger scale of the cyber offensive against Israel.
* Anonymous has no central leadership and, thus, no formal selection of who does and doesn’t operate under the collective’s banner.