Updated: Aug 10
In the digital era, there are no longer physical, kinetic wars or conflicts without accompanying cyber ones
On Friday afternoon, Israel launched operation “Breaking Dawn” against the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), one of the main Palestinian terrorist groups which rejects the notion of the State of Israel and is responsible for countless bloody attacks within its borders.
On Thursday, the Islamic Jihad’s website was hacked. While this happened before the operation had officially begun, the situation in the Israeli areas bordering the Gaza strip was already very tense, following the arrest of West Bank PIJ leader by Israeli security forces on Monday.
The PIJ website’s homepage was replaced by the world “hacked”. The Jerusalem Post’s Tzvi Joffre reported that shortly after, the site was taken down for maintenance.
Then, on Friday night, Israel’s Channel 2 website cited sources in Gaza which reported a cyberattack against the website of Hamas – the terror group which has led suicide attacks against Israeli citizens over the past three decades, and has been ruling the Gaza Strip since 2007 (Note: Hamas stayed out of this latest round of fighting).
While little information has surfaced regarding both cyberattacks, and no entity has taken accountability for them or has even been officially accused, this highlights an aspect of war in the digital era: there are no longer physical, kinetic wars or conflicts without accompanying cyber ones, as has been evident in Ukraine, Nagorno-Karabakh, Ethiopia, and so many others.
Iran, of course, has long been considered Israel’s worst cyber adversary. “Iran has become our dominant rival in cyber, together with Hezbollah and Hamas,” Israel’s cyber chief, Gabi Portnoy, recently said. Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in Gaza, and JIP in the West Bank and in Gaza are all proxies of Iran, fed and fueled by its regime.
Over the past few years, Hamas has tried numerous times to hack the phones of Israeli soldiers in attempts to gather intelligence and uncover military secrets. In April 2022, Israeli cybersecurity firm Cybereason uncovered a new Hamas hacking campaign which used social media.
Dubbed “Operation Bearded Barbie”, Cybereason said the campaign has demonstrated a “new level of sophistication” achieved by Hamas.