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Israeli websites hacked with Gaza protest images

Hackers post image in support of Palestinians on Israeli websites, days after Israeli forces kill 17 Palestinians during Land Day protests
The image and headline that appeared on multiple Israeli websites (Screengrab)

Pro-Palestine hackers targeted Israeli websites on Tuesday, replacing their homepages with images asserting Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine, days after Israeli forces killed 17 Palestinians on “Land Day” protests in the besieged Gaza Strip.

The image, under the headline ‘Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine’, appeared with the words ‘Th3Falcon was here’. The message took over the websites of Israeli municipalities, a local council, hospital and Israel’s national opera.

The pages, accompanied by background music, also displayed the message ‘We will not forget our martyrs’ in Arabic.

Einat Meron, a cyber defence expert, said the hacks bore the hallmarks of an annual cyber campaign by Anonymous, an activist hacking group, the Times of Israel reported

A senior security researcher for security firm Kaspersky Lab also said Anonymous was likely behind the hacks, speaking to the channel.  

The group has previously targeted Israeli government sites and social media accounts in what it calls ‘#OpIsrael’, in solidarity with Palestinians. The group has carried out the campaign since 2013. 

Land Day stems from 30 March 1976, when Israeli forces killed six Palestinian citizens of Israel during a protest against land confiscations. Palestinians have marked the day for the past 42 years to denounce Israeli policies to take over Palestinian land.

This year, it came on the heels of months of anger over US President Donald Trump’s decision to move the American embassy to Jerusalem, largely perceived as the United States rejecting Palestinian claims to East Jerusalem as their capital as part of a two-state solution.

On Tuesday, the Israeli military shot and killed a 25-year-old Palestinian man, Ahmed Arafa, on the Gaza border, bringing the total number of Palestinians killed during demonstrations near the border to 18.

In the Gaza Strip, where 1.3 million of the territory’s two million inhabitants are refugees, protest organisers have called for six weeks of demonstrations called the "Great March of Return" along the border of the besieged Palestinian enclave and Israel, starting on Land Day and culminating on 15 May for Nakba Day, marking the displacement of Palestinians by Israel in 1948.

Human rights NGO Adalah denounced the Israeli army’s use of live fire as a “brutal violation of the international legal obligation to distinguish between civilians and combatants”, and called for an investigation into the killings.

The Israeli army declared the border area of the Gaza Strip a closed military zone - meaning all Palestinians getting close to the border fence could risk getting shot.

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