Last updated: 6 November, 2011

Israel army and intelligence websites down after hacker threat

The websites of Israel’s military and its intelligence services were down Sunday, two days after a hacker group appeared to threaten the Jewish state over its interception of a Gaza-bound flotilla.

The websites of the Israel Defence Forces, the Shin Bet domestic intelligence agency and the Mossad foreign intelligence service were all unavailable through the day and into the evening.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office, whose website was functioning, said that the outage was caused by a technical glitch rather than by hackers.

“Israeli government websites crashed today because of a server malfunction, not as a result of a cyber attack,” Ofir Gendelman, a Netanyahu spokesman, wrote in a posting on Twitter.

The website problems came two days after a video apparently from “hacktivist” group Anonymous was posted on YouTube, threatening the Israeli government with retaliation over its interception of two Gaza-bound ships.

The boats carrying 27 activists, crew and journalists were intercepted in international waters before they could breach Israel’s blockade on the Palestinian territory.

It was the second time activists had tried to run the blockade since May 2010, when Israeli commandos raided a Turkish-led group of ships, killing nine Turkish activists and sparking a diplomatic crisis with Ankara.

The video, entitled “An open letter from Anonymous to the Government of Israel,” accuses the Jewish state of “piracy on the high seas.”

“If you continue blocking humanitarian vessels to Gaza or repeat the dreadful actions of May 31st, 2010 against any Gaza Freedom Flotillas then you will leave us no choice but to strike back,” the video warns.

It was not immediately possible to confirm whether the video was posted by the hacker group, which has claimed involvement in various hacker activity, including most recently exposing details of individuals who visited child porn sites.

Anonymous has been involved in scores of hacking exploits including the defacing of a website of Syria’s defence ministry to protest a bloody crackdown on anti-government protesters.

Last year, the shadowy group launched retaliatory attacks on companies perceived to be enemies of the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks.

On Tuesday, a day after the Palestinians won full membership of UNESCO, over US and Israeli objections, hackers from around the world attacked Palestinian servers, cutting Internet service across the West Bank and Gaza.