The fake accounts that were identified as Hamas operators were seemingly innocent profiles that approached Israelis over the past month, attempting to implant spyware.
The IDF has uncovered and foiled yet anotherHamas network posing as young women on social networks in order to honeypot IDF soldiers in order to access as much information and intelligence on the military that they can.
The fake accounts that were identified as Hamas operators were Hodaya Shetrit, Racheli Benisti and Adina Goldberg.
The seemingly innocent profiles approached Israelis over the past month on Telegram and various social networks that dealt with soccer and dating and tried to implant spyware under the guise of a puzzle app.
“The profiles corresponded with soldiers in order to establish a connection that would allow them to take the next step and entice them to download a game, which would later turn out to be a malicious attack tool,” a senior officer in Military Intelligence was quoted by the IDF as saying.
“The profiles corresponded with soldiers in order to establish a connection that would allow them to take the next step and entice them to download a game, which would later turn out to be a malicious attack tool.”
Senior Israeli military officer
The app would allow the attacker, Hamas, to gain almost complete control over the soldier’s device. It would then be used to gather critical information and even track the soldier.
The network was identified after a soldier reported a suspicious conversation that he had with someone on Telegram.
Following the report, an operation dubbed “The end of the Game” was begun by a joint team made up of the Shin Bet internal security agency, the IDF’s Information Security Division and the Spectrum and Cyber Defense Division.
The operation by the various bodies was conducted in the General Staff monitoring center that was recently opened in the Information Security Division which is responsible for detecting, identifying and exposing various cyber threats against soldiers and military assets using advanced technological means.
“This is comprehensive cooperation of a number of security bodies inside and outside the military, through which many attempts to penetrate soldiers’ phones were thwarted, without them noticing,” the IDF said.
The Israeli military has thwarted several similar attempts by Hamas to honeypot troops in recent years.
Two years ago, the phones of hundreds of soldiers, including combat soldiers, were compromised. The IDF thwarted the attempt by the Gaza-based terror group in an operation they called “Rebound.”
The military identified six main characters used by Hamas, many of whom presented themselves as new immigrants to Israel with hearing or vision problems to explain their less-than-fluent Hebrew.
In addition to using the same characters on various platforms to boost its credibility, Hamas is said to have edited their pictures, making it more difficult to find the original source of the character’s picture.
Once on the phone, the virus would give Hamas operatives control over all aspects of the phone, including pictures, the soldier’s location, text messages and the soldier’s contact list.
The virus would also have access to the phone’s camera and microphone, taking pictures and recording conversations remotely without the soldier knowing. The group was also able to download and transfer files and have access to the phone’s GPS allowing them to know the infected device’s location.
The IDF believes that Hamas and other terror groups will continue with similar attempts.
“We are closely monitoring the enemy, and as soon as we see fit, we will thwart it and impair its capabilities,” the IDF said. “It should be understood that this is an ongoing mission, in which we will continue to act at all times to disrupt enemy capabilities.”
Following the latest attempt, the military has reiterated to soldiers to follow the IDF’s cautiousness guidelines for the use of social networks: only confirming friendship requests from people one knows personally, not uploading any classified information to any social network, and to only download applications from the original App Store (rather than downloading applications from links).
The military has also recommended that a soldier who is approached by a stranger online should be aware that it might be an attempt to honeypot them, especially if the suspicious individual is unable to meet in person.
The IDF has urged all soldiers, including those in the reserves, to report to their commander and security officials if the suspicious individual asks them to download applications and if they feel that their phone may have been compromised.
The PA and its leader, Mahmoud Abbas, are concerned that the Palestinian issue will be sidelined in the wake of the talk of a new Middle East security alliance that would see Israel and some Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia, come together to confront Iran and its terrorist proxies.
For some time now, the rapprochement between Israel and some Arab countries has been keeping Abbas and the PA leadership up at night. They see it as a violation of the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, according to which the Arabs would establish normal relations with Israel only after a “full Israeli withdrawal from all the territories occupied since 1967… and the establishment of a sovereign independent Palestinian state… with East Jerusalem as its capital.”
Although Biden is scheduled to meet Abbas in Bethlehem, the PA leader is aware that the US president’s visit to the region is mainly aimed at establishing the new security alliance, discussing the possibility of promoting normalization between Israel and Saudi Arabia and strengthening US-Saudi relations.
As part of his effort to keep the Palestinian issue at the top of the agenda of the Biden administration and the international community, Abbas traveled earlier this week to Amman, where he held talks with Jordan’s King Abdullah. As far as Abbas is concerned, his talks with the Jordanian monarch were successful. The king assured him that despite his support for the proposed alliance, he would make a big effort to ensure the Palestinian issue is not “marginalized” during the Biden visit.
Still, Abbas is worried the Biden administration has no real intention to fulfill most of its promises to the Palestinians, including the reopening of the US consulate in Jerusalem, which was closed by the Trump administration in 2018. In addition, Abbas and other Palestinian officials in Ramallah have expressed deep disappointment with the Biden administration for its alleged failure to exert pressure on Israel to halt settlement construction and refrain from unilateral actions that could “sabotage” the prospects of achieving a two-state solution.
Palestinian officials argue that the Biden administration’s continued “bias” in favor of Israel and failure to carry out its promises to the Palestinians is undermining the PA leadership’s credibility in the eyes of its people and playing into the hands of the extremists, especially Hamas.
“The US does not want to put any pressure on Israel,” said Mahmoud al-Aloul, deputy chairman of Fatah.
“[The US] keeps telling us that we need to be patient because the political situation in Israel is unstable.”
Walid al-Awad, a member of the Palestinian Central Council, one of the key decision-making institutions of the PLO, said the Palestinians should reject Biden’s “suspicious” visit and make it clear they won’t allow themselves to continue falling victim to “American deception.”
Awad and other Palestinian officials have been demanding that the PA leadership carry out its threats to halt security coordination with Israel and renounce all signed agreements between the Palestinians and Israelis. But they know that Abbas, whose popularity among the Palestinians is on the wane, is not eager to cut off his ties with Israel. While he has lost the support of the majority of the Palestinians, Abbas continues to enjoy the backing of the US and the European Union.
A PUBLIC opinion poll published this week by the Ramallah-based Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PCPSR) indicated a significant drop in support for Abbas’s ruling Fatah faction and a similar drop in support for the two-state solution.
The results of the poll also revealed a rise in support for a return to an armed intifada and majority support for the recent terrorist attacks inside Israel.
If new presidential elections were held today, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh would receive 55% of the votes, while Abbas would get only 33%, according to the poll. The percentage of Palestinians who want the 86-year-old Abbas to resign has risen from 73% three months ago to 77%.
Another disturbing finding for Abbas: 65% of the Palestinians are opposed to dialogue with the US administration under President Joe Biden.
The results of the poll show that a vast majority of the Palestinians have no confidence in Abbas and the PA leadership, do not see the US as an honest broker in the conflict with Israel and support Hamas and armed attacks against Israel.
This is in addition to the fact that Abbas has been running the PA as an authoritarian regime, refusing to share powers or even consult with others on major issues concerning the Palestinian issue. He has even alienated some of his loyalists by appointing Hussein al-Sheikh to the top position of secretary-general of the PLO. The appointment boosts Sheikh’s chances of succeeding Abbas as president of the PA.
It’s already obvious that the next PA president will not be chosen through a general election, mainly due to the split between the West Bank and Gaza Strip and mounting tensions among the top brass of the Fatah leadership. Several veteran Fatah officials are said to be vehemently opposed to the appointment of Sheikh, arguing that he does not have the credentials to step into the shoes of the PA president.
“Abbas is always keen on appeasing the Americans, Europeans and Israelis more than tending to the needs of his people,” said a senior Fatah official who previously served as a minister in the PA cabinet. “How can he complain that Biden is not fulfilling his promises to the Palestinians when he himself is doing the same? How many times has Abbas promised to halt security coordination with Israel? How many times has he promised and threatened to cancel all signed agreements with Israel? How many times has he promised to end the conflict between Fatah and Hamas? How many times has he promised to hold general elections?”
During the meeting with Biden, Abbas is expected to repeat his call to the US administration to work toward paving the way for creating a “political horizon” that would lead to the resumption of the stalled peace talks with Israel, according to Palestinian sources. This is part of Abbas’s strategy to put the Palestinian issue back at the center of the world’s attention. From Abbas’s point of view, if Saudi Arabia joins the Abraham Accords, the Palestinians may drop even further off the radar of the Arab world than where it currently stands.
But even if Biden reopens the US consulate in Jerusalem, which previously served as a diplomatic mission to the Palestinians, this is unlikely to bolster Abbas’s standing among his own people. The controversy surrounding the consulate is not at the top of the Palestinian public’s list of priorities. Rather, most Palestinians are worried about the security situation in the West Bank, the harsh economic situation and Israeli measures in Jerusalem, including at al-Haram al-Sharif (Temple Mount).
And the Palestinians do not seem to care about any “political horizon” with Israel, at least not under the current circumstances when many of them have lost confidence in any peace process.
HAMAS, FOR its part, is also concerned about the idea of establishing a new Middle East alliance. The Hamas leadership is convinced that the security cooperation between Israel and the Arab countries aims to undermine Iran’s growing influence in the region and deal a blow to the “axis of resistance” against Israel.
As part of an effort to disrupt Biden’s upcoming visit, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh flew last week from Qatar to Lebanon, where he held meetings with Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah and leaders of several Palestinian and Lebanese extremist organizations.
Iran and its Palestinian and Lebanese proxies believe the proposed security alliance in the Middle East is part of a “Zionist-American-Arab conspiracy” to facilitate the integration of Israel in the region. They are particularly worried that the alliance’s main goal would be to diminish the power of Hamas and Hezbollah and end Iran’s intervention in the internal affairs of Yemen, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.
Hamas knows that increased tensions and violence in the West Bank and Jerusalem further undermine the credibility of Abbas and the PA leadership among the Palestinians. As far as Hamas is concerned, the death of each Palestinian in clashes with the IDF is another nail in the coffin of the PA leadership and any “political horizon” with Israel. The daily IDF raids on Palestinian cities, villages and refugee camps are increasing the anger and frustration not only against Israel, but also against Abbas and the PA leadership.
Like Abbas, the leaders of Hamas are also worried about their group’s growing isolation in the Arab world. In an attempt to shift attention to the Gaza Strip, Hamas has renewed the talk about a possible prisoner exchange deal with Israel by releasing a video of Israeli-Arab citizen Hisham al-Sayed, who has been held captive by the terror group since he crossed into the Gaza Strip in 2015.
The purpose of the video is to put the issue of a prisoner swap back on the agenda ahead of Biden’s visit to the region. Hamas is hoping to send a message to the Americans, the Arabs and Israel to the effect that the terror group remains a major and relevant player in the Palestinian arena and that it holds the key to security and stability.
By raising the issue of the prisoner swap, Hamas is also hoping to score points with the Palestinian public by showing that it is the only party working to secure the release of Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli prisons at a time when Abbas is not doing anything in this regard. Hamas is well aware that securing a prisoner exchange agreement would increase its popularity among the Palestinians.
It’s hard to find a single Palestinian who believes Biden’s visit to the region will yield positive change for the Palestinians, especially in light of the recent collapse of the ruling coalition in Israel.
The day after Biden leaves, Abbas will realize the current stalemate with Israel is likely to remain intact, at least until the next Israeli elections, which are scheduled for four months from now. Moreover, Abbas and Hamas will wake up to a new Middle East in which the Arabs continue to shift their attention from the PA/Hamas-engineered Palestinian plight to their own pressing problems. •
Gaza [Palestine] July 2 (ANI/Xinhua): The Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) on Friday welcomed a UN report that called for the immediate ending of the siege that Israel has been imposing on the Gaza Strip since 2007.
On Thursday, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in a report that the situation in the Gaza Strip “is catastrophic” due to a siege that has been imposed on the coastal enclave for 15 years.
“The Israeli siege raised the rates of poverty and unemployment to be the highest in the world, destroyed the economy, crushed a large segment of the Palestinians, and turned them to depend on international aid by more than 50 percent,” the report said.
“The siege of Gaza should be lifted completely in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 1860,” OCHA said.
The report called for the immediate lifting of the Israeli siege, lifting all restrictions that undermined the Palestinian economy, and reopening and constructing factories destroyed during the conflicts.
The report accused Palestinian police in the West Bank of “violently dispersing popular protests demanding justice and rounded up scores of people for peacefully protesting.” It cited a Palestinian man who claimed a PA officer in civilian clothes arrested him while he was on his way to a protest.
More testimonies gathered accuse authority officers of arresting protesters at their homes, detaining Palestinians for planning protests and blocking protests from taking place.
Hamas security forces were accused of “routinely taunting and threatening detainees”and of exercising the use of solitary confinement and various forms of beatings, such as whipping detainees’ feet, forcing them into painful positions for prolonged periods and hoisting their arms behind their backs with cables or rope.
Banat, 44, a longtime critic of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, died during a raid by PA security officers on his home in the town of Dura.
PA Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh on Thursday ordered the formation of a special commission of inquiry to investigate the death. However, the commission’s report was not made publically available.
14 Palestinian Authority security officers were arrested and indicted in a PA military court. The officers were released by the PA last week, with the Palestinian Independent Commission For Human Rights (ICHR) saying that the decision to release the officers was issued by the PA military prosecutor due to the health conditions arising from the spread of COVID-19.
“More than a year after beating to death Nizar Banat, the Palestinian Authority continues to arrest and torture critics and opponents,” HRW’s Israel and Palestine director Omar Shakir said. “Systematic abuse by the PA and Hamas forms a critical part of the repression of the Palestinian people.”
In 2021, the ICHR received 252 complaints of torture and ill-treatment and 279 of arbitrary arrest against PA authorities in the West Bank and 193 complaints of torture and ill-treatment and 97 of arbitrary arrest against Hamas authorities in Gaza.
The Syrian National Coalition has condemned a reported decision by Hamas to restore ties with President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, ten years after it cut them off following the outbreak of the Syrian conflict.ShareFlipboardRedditWhatsAppTwitterFacebook
Hamas leaders had previously endorsed the uprising against Assad’s autocratic rule [Getty]
The coalition – which includes a number of groups opposed to the Syrian regime – labelled the move a “disregard for the lives of Syrians and Palestinians who were killed by this regime and its allies”, in a statement on Thursday.
The Palestinian Islamist group reportedly decided to restore ties 10 years after shunning Assad for his brutal crackdown on a peaceful uprising against his rule, Reuters said earlier this month.
An official – who requested anonymity – told the international news agency the two sides had embarked on “high profile meetings to achieve that goal”.
The Syrian opposition body has now called on Hamas to rethink its decision.
“The Syrian National Coalition calls upon Hamas not to distort the history of the struggle for freedom and independence, by aligning with a criminal regime,” the coalition stated.
“Hamas will not be of any service for the Palestinian cause if it sides with sabotage, murder, rape and torturing [people] to death.”
The statement added that normalisation with the Assad regime would not represent the “just cause of the Palestinian people” living under Israeli occupation.
The New Arab Staff
It warned that Hamas would “lose its support in the nation” if it restored ties with the Assad regime, saying the regime had a “deep-seated grudge” against Hamas and all Palestinians.
The recently revealed 2013 massacre in the Damascus suburb of Tadamon – where many Palestinian refugees displaced by Israel in 1948 had resettled- showed the regime horrifically executing at least 41 people, some of whom are believed to be Palestinians.
Hisham al-Sayed seen lying in bed wearing a mask, with what appears to be an oxygen canister next to him
Gaza’s Hamas rulers have released a video of a captive Israeli citizen held incommunicado since 2015, showing the man lying in a hospital bed wearing an oxygen mask.
It was the first image of Hisham al-Sayed to be released since he wandered across the frontier from southern Israel into Gaza. Its release came a day after Hamas said the condition of one of the Israelis it was holding captive had deteriorated.
Other parts of the video show an intravenous drip next to the bed as well as an image of Sayed’s Israeli identification card. Sayed is a member of Israel’s Bedouin Arab minority.
The video is titled “Footage of the soldier in the army of occupation, Hisham Sayed, detained by the Qassam Brigades”. It is not dated, but a TV screen in the video shows images of the Qatar Economic Forum, which was held in Doha last week.
Sayed is one of two Israeli civilians believed to be held by Hamas. Rights groups say that both suffer from mental illness. The Islamic militant group has given no details on the conditions or whereabouts of its prisoners and it has never allowed the Red Cross to visit them.
Israel’s prime minister, Naftali Bennett, condemned the release of the video and said Hamas was holding two mentally ill people against “all international laws.”
“Issuing a video of a sick person is a despicable and desperate act,” his office said in a statement.
It described Sayid as a civilian with mental illness who had crossed the border into Gazaa number of times previously. “The actions of Hamas are proof that it is a cynical terror and criminal organisation,” the statement said, adding that the video delayed any chance of a deal.
Israel and Hamas are bitter enemies. They have fought four wars and dozens of smaller skirmishes since Hamas took control of Gaza 15 years ago.
Israel and Egypt have maintained a tight blockade over the territory since. Israel says the closure is needed to prevent Hamas from building up its military capabilities, but critics say the policy amounts to collective punishment of Gaza’s 2 million Palestinian residents.
Israel says there can be no major moves toward lifting the blockade until the soldiers’ remains and captive civilians are released.
Bennett’s office said Israel would continue working through Egyptian mediation to bring about the release of the captives.
Saudi crown prince, Iraq PM discuss ‘regional stability’
Iraq’s prime minister met with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, in the kingdom Sunday as part of Baghdad’s efforts to mediate between Riyadh and Tehran.
Mustafa al-Kadhemi, who headed to Saudi Arabia on Saturday, is expected to then visit Iran, its regional rival with which Riyadh has had no diplomatic ties since 2016.
Prince Mohammed and Kadhemi addressed “bilateral relations and opportunities for joint cooperation”, reported the official Saudi Press Agency.
“They exchanged points of view on a number of issues that would contribute to supporting and strengthening regional security and stability,” it added.
Iraq has over the past year hosted five rounds of talks between the two regional rivals, with the last session held in April.
Kadhemi said at the time he believed that “reconciliation is near” between Riyadh and Tehran, a further reflection of shifting political alignments across the region.
On Saturday an Iraqi cabinet source said that Kadhemi’s trip to Saudi Arabia and Iran “comes in the context of talks that Riyadh and Tehran recently held in Baghdad”.
The source said those talks “represented a road map for mending relations and returning to the right course of strengthening bilateral relations” between Saudi Arabia and Iran, which support rival sides in conflict zones around the region.
Saudi Arabia and Iran have had no diplomatic ties for six years.
In early March, Prince Mohammed said his country and Iran were “neighbours forever”, and that it was “better for both of us to work it out and to look for ways in which we can coexist”.
After his arrival in the kingdom, Kadhemi performed the minor pilgrimage, known as umra, in the holy city of Mecca, according to pictures released by his office.
The head of the political bureau of the Palestinian resistance movement, Ismail Haniyeh, made the remarks in a Sunday address to a gathering in Lebanon, during which he also strongly condemned the normalization of some Arab countries’ relations with Israel.
He reflected on the Israeli siege of the Gaza Strip, saying, “Gaza is under land, air, and sea blockade, but it used (Operation) al-Quds Sword against Israel, and using that sword, it is getting ready for a strategic confrontation with Israel.”
Noting that the operation marked a strategic development in Palestinians’ confrontation with the regime in Tel Aviv, Haniyeh said, “Israel was armed to the teeth, but became a target of missiles attack by al-Qassam (Brigades) and the Gaza-based resistance.”
Haniyeh further emphasized that the Zionists and Israeli settlers have no place in al-Quds and al-Aqsa, saying, “From Lebanon, I’m telling you that we will destroy your dreams and you have no place in al-Quds and al-Aqsa.”
The head of Hamas political bureau also said al-Quds and the West Bank have been under pressure over the past years to make our people give up resistance and abandon their land, while stressing that Operation al-Quds Sword will continue until the complete liberation of Palestine.
The latest development came a day after Haniyeh denounced as “very dangerous” the normalization of relations between some Arab countries and Israel, stressing that fierce resistance is the only strategic option to confront the Israeli occupation.
“What the region is witnessing is very dangerous. The ‘Israeli’ entity is being integrated into the region through military alliances to confront Iran, Hezbollah, and Hamas,” Haniyeh said at the National Islamic Conference convened to discuss the efforts of the Israeli regime to expand its influence in the region through the normalization of ties and its negative repercussions on the issue of Palestine.
His remarks came after Israel’s minister for military affairs proposed the formation of a US-led regional military front against Iran, featuring Tel Aviv and its Arab allies.
Speaking on Tuesday, Benny Gantz referred to the Israeli regime’s military cooperation with some Persian Gulf Arab countries as well as Egypt and Jordan, saying there were efforts to expand this cooperation.
The US mediated normalization deals between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain in August 2020. Sudan and Morocco followed suit by joining the so-called Abraham Accords.
Saudi Arabia has backed the agreements and is widely expected to be the next regional Arab state to forge an official relationship with the regime.
Gantz’s remarks came ahead of a regional visit by US President Joe Biden. The July 13-16 tour will take Biden to Saudi Arabia and the occupied Palestinian territories.
The visit is expected to bring about more gravitation among the regional Arab states and the Israeli regime.
Thursday, 23 June 2022 3:36 PM [ Last Update: Thursday, 23 June 2022 3:46 PM ]
The Palestinian resistance movement, Hamas, has hailed recent remarks by a spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who called for the full lifting of Israel’s years-long blockade on the impoverished Gaza Strip.
In a statement on Wednesday, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said the UN official’s remarks revealed once again the extent of the suffering of the more than two million Palestinians as a result of the unjust siege that clearly violates international law and human rights.
“We call on the UN and all human rights and international organizations to take all these statements and reports seriously, work to intensify efforts to end the suffering of our Palestinian people and to pressure the Zionist occupying regime to lift its siege,” Hamas said.
He further stressed the need to “end the policy of apartheid practiced by the Zionist occupation against our Palestinian people.”
Hamas Political Bureau member Mousa Abu Marzouk and other senior officials have said the Palestinian resistance will finally succeed in having the siege lifted on the Gaza Strip and commence its reconstruction.
On Tuesday, Stephane Dujarric called for the complete removal of the Israeli blockade of Gaza, in line with a 2009 UN Security Council resolution.
“Today is the 15th anniversary of the beginning of the blockade in the Gaza Strip,” Dujarric said during a press briefing held at the UN headquarters in New York.
“Due to poverty, high unemployment and other factors caused by the blockade, about 80 percent of Gaza’s population depends on humanitarian aid.
“This year, $510 million is needed to provide food, water, sanitation and health care for 1.6 million people, and we now have only 25 per cent of that,” he added.
In the latest Israeli bombardment campaign against the Gaza Strip, at least 260 Palestinians, including over 60 children, were killed in a time span of 11 days that began on May 10 last year.
In response, Palestinian resistance movements launched Operation al-Quds Sword and fired more than 4,000 rockets and missiles into the occupied territories, killing 12 Israelis.
Apparently caught off guard by the unprecedented barrage of rockets from Gaza, Israel announced a unilateral ceasefire on May 21, which Palestinian resistance movements accepted with Egyptian mediation.
Elsewhere, the UN official pointed out that only sustainable political solutions between Palestinian factions can alleviate the pressure on the people of Gaza.
“Efforts should be continued to reach a compromise between all Palestinian political groups,” he said.
The Palestinian leadership has been divided between Fatah and Hamas since 2006, when the latter scored a landslide victory in parliamentary elections in the Gaza Strip. Hamas has ever since been running the coastal enclave, while Fatah has been based in the autonomous parts of the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
Previous reconciliation attempts by the two sides to form a power-sharing unity government in Gaza and the West Bank have failed.