Middle East makes war on the web

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In their dispute over religious and ethnic beliefs, Palestinians and Israelis have made history, bringing their war to the web.

Hackers supporting the Palestinian independence movement crashed the website of the Knesset (Israel’s parliament), the site of the prime minister’s office, and that of Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The onslaughts were thought to be in retaliation for earlier Israeli attacks on the website of Hezbollah, the Lebanese political party seen as an inspiration to the Palestinian movement.

The Israeli servers were reputedly brought down by vast volumes of e-mail to government addresses, and there was a rumour that obsolescent servers might have made the situation worse.

NetVision, the country’s largest ISP, said the Knesset site had never crashed before, and that there had been no interruption to Internet access in Israel, where high-tech companies are vital to the economy.

NetVision is in an invidious position, with its servers under attack from Palestinian sympathizers, because it also hosts the websites in the Palestinian heartland governed by the PLO Authority.

Online attacks by both sets of protagonists are expected to increase, reflecting the tensions and violence on the ground. iDefense, the online security intelligence service in Washington DC, anticipates system penetrations, viruses, Trojan horses and denial of service attacks.

At least 14 sites have been hit by pro-Palestinian attackers and at least two sites by pro-Israeli attackers, according to iDefense said. One pro-Palestinian group has deployed a FloodNet-type tool and has attacked the websites of the Bank of Israel, the Tel Aviv stock exchange, and the Israeli government.

The general feeling is that Israeli investment should be judged long-term,
as the the Middle East tension will recede, while the growth of Israel’s high-tech economy will accelerate.

Israel has about the same number of websites as Denmark, which has a similar population.




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