Cyberwar in the Middle East

Palestinian, Israeli sites under attack

A number of government and news Web sites on both sides of the unfortunate conflict between Israel and Palestine are under attack according to local wire reports, and we've confirmed that several of Israel's government sites, including the Knesset, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the President's office, the Union of Local Authorities, and the Jewish Agency and World Zionist Organization, are currently disabled.

The Israeli government main gateway site is functioning, but many of the links within are returning 404 error pages. Several other of the sites listed are impossibly slow, as if sustaining a moderate flood attack.

The Israel Internet News Service is currently being re-directed to a humorous page called Hotblocks which contains the announcement, "Help! This is the Webmaster, my website at: http://hotblocks.com is being invaded by Meta Spiders! www.37.com - powered by 37 search engines, is trying to fight the enemy and save my page."

The cyber battle appears to be going tit for tat, as we have also found numerous Palestinian news sites including Akhbar Al-Naqab, A-Sennara, Al Esteqlal, Al-Quds Online and the Jerusalem Times to be either down or ridiculously slow. For those who wish to see the conflict from Palestine's perspective, a thorough index of Palestinian on-line journals can be found here. A number of the papers are still up and running, though more than half are down.

There have been pro-Israel calls for action against Hizbollah.org, which in fact is currently disabled, and against other pro-Palestinian Web sites circulating on several hacktivist boards.

According to reports, much of the attack against Israeli sites is thought to be the work of overseas Arabs and sympathizers working from North America (fatter pipes over here make any sort of flood attack more effective).

So we have here an example of non-violent and probably 'informal' resistance on the virtual battlefield -- and, considering the bloody alternative being enacted in the streets, we definitely prefer it. Too bad the whole tragic affair can't be relegated to cyberspace. ®

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