Sarah Irving

I do things with words, mainly English and Arabic

Gaza and the internet…

It seems fitting, since I’ve spent today holed up in bed with my impressive collection of germs and my trusty PC, that my new heroes are the faceless geeks at Anonymous. I was meant to be on the various Gaza, Syria and abortion rights demonstrations going on in convenient proximity to one another in Edinburgh today. The lurgy had other ideas.
But this is what the Bank of Jerusalem’s website looked like, a good day after the Anonymous group of hackers took BoJ and an alleged 9000 other Israeli commercial and government websites down:

Bank of Jerusalem website

(The Anonymous press release on their ‘Operation Israel’ is here. And they’re on Twitter here).

The various Israeli government ministry sites hit by Anonymous were a bit quicker at getting their appearance on the internet sorted out than BoJ, but not much. Other cyber-solidarity actions included Team Kuwait’s hacking of the website of a particularly obnoxious Israeli Knesset member Danny Danon (a self-proclaimed ‘Real Likudnik’, which he obviously considers to be a good thing), after he posted a petition calling for Gaza’s electricity to be cut off. Rather than adopting Anonymous’ tactic of blanking out websites, Team Kuwait had Danon’s website flip to images of the late deputy head of Hamas’ military wing, Ahmed al-Ja’bari, accompanied by martial music. It was over 24 hours before Danon’s staff managed to get their man’s mugshot back up.
It’s a measure, though, of the shifts in how conflicts are now run. Extra-state actors like these on the internet would, I guess, have caused infinitely more cost and consternation to the Israeli economy and state than the thousands who have turned out in recent days in demonstrations against the butchery in Gaza. And this article also points out some of the dilemmas the new propaganda war forums of Twitter, Facebook and YouTube raise for the providers of these platforms, and the extent to which they feel they have to edit and intervene in the content posted by their users – including the Israeli army and Hamas’ al-Qassem Brigades. One can argue that the propaganda aspects of this are ephemeral, but the kind of financial and operational disruption caused by major cyber-attacks must be much more worrying to the powers that be.

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