“Hacktivist” collective Anonymous posted a video in early March claiming it would carry out an “electronic Holocaust” on Israel on April 7. This attempt would mark the third time they have attacked on that date, which coincided with Israel’s Holocaust Memorial Day in 2013.
The video, which consists of a masked speaker reading a prepared speech interspersed with footage of Palestinians in the Gaza war and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convening a meeting in what appears to be a War Room, is in English with Arabic subtitles.
It claims, “We are coming back to punish you again, for your crimes in the Palestinian territories, as we do every year on 7 April,” Anonymous states. “All we see is continuous aggression, bombing, killing and kidnapping of the Palestinian people, as in the last war against Gaza in 2014.”
“We will erase you from cyberspace in our electronic Holocaust,” the video threatens. “As we did many times, we will take down your servers, government websites, Israeli military websites, and Israeli institutions.”
The video goes on, “A message to the youth of Palestine, you are a symbol of freedom, resistance and hope: we are with you and will continue to defend you. Our message to the foolish Benjamin Netanyahu and all leaders in the Zionist entities, we will continue to electronically attack until the people of Palestine are free.”
The first Anonymous cyber-attack on Israel took place in November 2012, following Operation Pillar of Defense. After that, the coordinated attacks have taken place on April 7 each year.
Daniel Cohen, a research associate at the Israel Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) Cyber Warfare program, told Israel National News “These groups call themselves anonymous, but in reality the Op-Israel hackers responsible for the actions are mostly from the Middle East, with connections to our local conflict.”
The largest of these groups is AnonGhost. The purpose of advertising the planned offensive appears to be to recruit additional hackers.
Benjamin T. Decker, senior intelligence analyst at Tel Aviv-based geo-political risk consultancy The Levantine Group, told Newsweek, “For the most part, this is posturing. This is actually the fourth year that Anonymous has carried out this Op-Israel attack and called on their supporters to erase Israel from the internet. As the years have progressed we have seen that, despite their increasing sophistication in hacking techniques, we have seen less damage against Israeli cyber infrastructures, largely due to Israel’s pioneering of most cyber warfare tactics, both offensive and defensive.”
WATCH: Anonymous Message To Israel #OpIsrael
The annual effort, while a nuisance, has yet to cause serious damage to Israel. All the same, vigilance is important. Col. Gabi Siboni, head of the INSS Cyber Security Program, told Israel National News, “The terror challenges facing Israel and the West are not only physical, but cyber as well. Israel is confronting these threats from Shi’ite Hezbollah and from Sunni Hamas on a daily basis.
“They are sophisticated and becoming more so. There is no question that in due course, the United States and other Western countries will face the same threats as Israel from these groups as well as from ISIS [Islamic State], if they are not already. ISIS is particularly adept at using the world-wide web to further its goals. But it is not only terrorist groups that perpetuate cyber attacks, nations do so as well and the need for cyber-security responses are growing exponentially.”
INSS cyber experts encourage companies to update their servers and change passwords. Private citizens, too, should strengthen their passwords and avoid opening unfamiliar emails or attachments.