The IDF's Operation Pillar of Cloud in Gaza has led to mixed responses across the Internet. Alongside messages of support, it also been on the receiving end of harsh international criticism. Moreover, some responses weren't limited just to criticism. Members of the hacker collective Anonymous, who have previously attacked Israeli websites, have continued with what they have dubbed OpIsrael#, in which they claimed to have attacked hundreds of Israeli websites in recent days.
On Thursday, Anonymous reported that it took down close to 40 Israeli government and security establishment websites, although the single website that they presented as having been attacked belonged to a security and cleaning services company. The report came after Likud MK Danny Danon announced earlier in the week that his website had been taken down by a group calling itself TeaM KuWaiT HaCkErS. Danon's website had been hosting an online petition calling for the Israeli government to cut off the supply of electricity going from Israel to Gaza.
“My website has been hacked into at this moment by hackers operating in support of Hamas,” Danon wrote. “If extremist hackers are breaking into my website because of the petition, it appears that we are doing something right.”
Danon continued, “The website will soon be fixed, and you can continue to sign the petition to halt the supply of electricity [from Israel] to Gaza. Together we will cut off the electricity in Gaza!” Danon promised his supporters on Thursday.
As of Saturday morning, music uploaded by hackers was still playing on Danon's website and pictures of assassinated Hamas leader Ahmed Jabari, Palestinian rockets, and a doctored photo from 2008 which depicts the successful launch of four Iranian Shihab rockets were still being displayed on the MK's website. In the real Iranian exercise one of the missiles actually failed to launch.
Anyone who enters Danon's website will also find Arabic writing and broken English saying “to withdraw forever, to give up forever. The assassination of our won't just strengthen our forces. Soon all of you will kill all of you, since they Trahlo [sic] our land. It begins!!”
On Friday evening, Anonymous hackers announced that they had attacked and taken off-line 550 different websites, including more important websites, like the one belonging to Israel's Foreign Ministry and the website of the Israeli political party Kadima. The hackers also wrote that they had erased the Foreign Ministry website's database. However, the website in question belongs to the Foreign Ministry's Mashav department, whose full name is the Agency for International Development Cooperation and whose role is to coordinate Israeli aid missions to developing countries in Africa, Asia and elsewhere.
According to the Foreign Ministry's regular website, which is functioning at this time, “[Mashav's] activities are funded in cooperation with third party states and multinational bodies like the Organization of American States, the Inter-American Development Bank, the United Nations Development Program, UNESCO and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.”
Hackers also announced that they had broken into the website of the Bank of Jerusalem and erased its database. As of Saturday morning, it appeared that the bank's website was working. However, Kadima's website is still destroyed. In addition, the website of a lab at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, a website belonging to an Israeli Arab-owned building and repairs company, a go-karting website operating out of Israel's North and others were destroyed.
“For far too long, Anonymous has stood by with the rest of the world and watched in despair the barbaric, brutal and despicable treatment of the Palestinian people in the so called 'Occupied Territories' by the Israel Defense Force,” Anonymous said in a press release.
The statement continued, “But when the government of Israel publicly threatened to sever all Internet and other telecommunications into and out of Gaza they crossed a line in the sand. As the former dictator of Egypt Mubarack [sic] learned the hard way - we are ANONYMOUS and NO ONE shuts down the Internet on our watch. To the IDF and government of Israel we issue you this warning only once...”
In another post, Anonymous group members responded to other groups in the United States that in their words, took the opportunity to claim that they are terrorists.
“Let us once again be perfectly clear: Anonymous does not in any way support the use of violence. Anonymous is a worldwide collective of individuals whose means pursue human rights, justice, and universal equality for the citizens of every nation,” the group said in a post.