Israel launches first ever military attack on Gaza 'hackers'

Israel launches first ever military attack on 'hackers' in Gaza
3 min read
06 May, 2019
The Israeli army on Sunday said it had responded to a cyber attack by Hamas.
The strike targeted the headquarters of the 'Hamas cyber unit', the IDF said [Getty/Twitter]

Israel's army has said it launched an airstrike on the besieged Gaza Strip in "response" to a "cyber attack" by Hamas, the first time the military has used military force against a hacking attempt.

The airstrike came after Israel said it "thwarted" the a cyber attack.

"Following our successful cyber defensive operation, we targeted a building where the Hamas cyber operatives work," the army said in a statement on its official Twitter account on Sunday.

"HamasCyberHQ.exe has been removed."

Fighting broke out between Israeli forces and Palestinian factions last week after four Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces during a weekly protest on the Gaza border.

After an intense aerial assault on the Palestinian enclave by Israel, on Monday both sides appeared to signal that a ceasefire was now in place.

Israel has pounded Gaza with air raids and strikes from the sea, destroying residential buildings, including one containing the office of the Turkish Anadolu News Agency.

At least 23 Palestinians have been killed in the Gaza Strip since the airstrikes began, among them unarmed civilians, a Hamas commander and Islamic Jihad militants.

Palestinian armed factions have fired around 600 rockets into Israel since the beginning of the attacks on Friday, killing four Israelis.

Israel's airstrike on the headquarters of Hamas' "cyber unit" came on Saturday, after it alleged the group, which governs the Gaza Strip, launched a "cyber attack" on Israel.

The attack was aimed at "harming the quality of life of Israeli citizens", the commander of the Israel's cyber division, who could not be named, told The Times of Israel.

While the Israeli forces said it could not release any further information about the cyber attack for security reasons, the army's cyber chief indicated the attack had not been particularly sophisticated.

Once thecyber division had dealt with the electronic attack, the army said, it launched an airstrike on the headquarters of its Hamas counterpart.

"Hamas no longer has cyber capabilities after our strike," Israeli military spokesperson Ronen Manelis said.

The retaliatory attack is a first for Israel and appears to be the first time any military force has responded to a cyber attack with physical force in real time.

The US in 2015 became the first country to retaliate against a cyber attack with an airstrike, but the response did not come in real time, ZDNet reported.

The US killed Junaid Hussain, a UK citizen and Islamic State group member in charge of hacking operations, with a drone strike after he leaked US armed service member records online.

For many, the Israel's retaliatory strike will once again call into question claims that its bombing of the besieged Gaza Strip are "proportional" to those meted out by Palestinian armed factions.

Israel has been condemned for using "disproportionate" force in its response to the Great March of Return border protests and rocket strikes from armed factions in Gaza.

The UN and human rights groups have repeatedly accused Israel of
war crimes for its actions in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, including the bombardment of residential areas in densely-packed Gaza and the use of lethal force against peaceful protesters.