Gaza conflict migrates to cyberspace

By staff writers
16 Nov 2012

Cyber-activists have pledged to struggle back online against the Israeli government's attempt to isolate Gaza digitally by cutting off the territory's Internet.

"No Internet, phone or electricity. #Gaza is in the dark and cut off from the world," hacktivist network Anonymous said early this morning (16 November 2012).

The group, which has a history of launching cyber-attacks against powerful corporate and governmental sites, has issued a statement that full Internet isolation for Gaza "will not happen on our watch."

In a press release posted at 2am ET, Anonymous declared: "We will use all our resources to make certain you stay connected to the Internet and remain able to transmit your experiences to the world."

The statement added: "As a start, we have put together the Anonymous Gaza Care Package (http://bit.ly/XH87C5) which contains instructions in Arabic and English that can aid you in the event the Israel government makes good on its threat to attempt to sever your Internet connection. It also contains useful information on evading IDF surveillance, and some basic first aid and other useful information. We will continue to expand and improve this document in the coming days, and we will transmit it to you by every means at our disposal. We encourage you to download this package, and to share it..."

As Internet connections went down in Gaza, they tweeted: "If you have friends in Gaza who still have phone, but need internet, give them these dial-up numbers and instructions: http://pastebin.com/6dYQruHu ."

The group has also defaced a raft of websites belonging to the Israeli government, but has so far not succeeded in taking any down.

The Gaza conflict already has a notable digital dimension. The Israeli Defense Forces first announced their latest assault on the territory on Twitter - the first time in history this has happened.

Since then competing legions of bloggers and tweeters have been waging information and analysis tussles across the Internet.

Following on from cyber-tactics developed during the 2009 Gaza assault, the IDS has established a digital 'war room' and has 'gamifyed' its online reports of what it says is going on.

Yesterday an IDS-related twitter feed reportedly went down for a few hours amid speculation that it had been suspended after it provided a number of updates on the Gaza conflict, including an implied threat against Hamas leaders which appeared to break Twitter’s rule on posting “direct, specific threats of violence against others.”

Other reports indicated that the suspension message was erroneous. Twitter refuses to comment on individual accounts for privacy reasons.

"Both the Israeli army and Hamas are posting updates on their attacks in real time. Israelis and Palestinians used dueling hashtags as they battled for control of the narrative on social media," reported Al Jazeera on 15 November.

* More about Gaza on Ekklesia: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/gaza

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