Pro-Palestinian hackers have again taken the struggle into cyberspace by incapacitating the websites of two Israeli hospitals (possibly a bit morally dubious, but hey, at least wasn't a suicide bombing). A few weeks earlier the websites of the Tel-Aviv Stock Exchange and Israel’s El-Al International Airlines went down after similar attacks. It's the latest episode in the spat between pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli hackers.
Hackers managed to bring down the websites of the Sheba and Assouta Medical Centers for several hours on Wednesday (25th) as they tried to break into their mainframes. On the same day the website of the Israel Festival was also paralysed. Hacktivists wrote “Free Palestine” on many sections of the site along with images of the Israeli and American flags burning.
The cyber war began in early January when a hacker known as OxOmar broke into over 80 Israeli servers, got access to the credit card details of thousands of Israelis, and published them online. The lone ranger was soon joined by a group going by the name Nightmare and together they brought down several Israeli websites. Pro-Israeli hackers got in on the game and published details of 20,000 Facebook users. Israel has stated it views cyber attacks as acts of terror and will retaliate forcefully.
In other news, an elderly Palestinian woman has gone on hunger strike in protest over settler attacks in the city of Hebron in the West Bank. Hana Abu Heikel began the strike after settlers burned the family car Saturday (21st). Since Israeli settlers moved into the houses surrounding her home in 1984, the family have seen eight cars scorched and another six smashed. In the past week the Abu Heikel’s home was also attacked with stones.
Some of the worst settler violence in the Occupied Territories has occurred in Hebron. There is a predictable pattern to the aftermath. Whenever Israeli soldiers intervene they arrest Palestinians and take no action against the settlers. Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu approved measures to curb settler violence last month - aggressive settlement of the West Bank is Israel's not so secret agenda, and the Israeli state pretends to act when while doing nothing. The violence in the West Bank from settler attacks has risen noticeably in the past year: In 2011 Israeli settlers killed three Palestinians, injured 167 and damaged an estimated 10,000 Palestinian trees. The Abu Heikels’ olive grove was destroyed in 2008 after being set ablaze. The family have filed more than 500 complaints about settlers in the past 28 years but none of the complaints have been investigated. The family are besieged by settlers and continuously harassed to leave the area, yet the Abu Heikels refuse to leave their home.
On Saturday (21st) Palestinian activists played football in peaceful protest near an Israeli checkpoint. It was part of a weekly demonstration organised by the Popular Committees of Beit Ommar and Yatta, the Palestine Women’s Struggle Committee, and supported by Israeli and international solidarity activists. This was the first time the protest had been held in front of the Tunnel checkpoint, along the road that connects Hebron and Jerusalem. Road access has been prohibited to Palestinians. Around 90 people (a large part of them Palestinian women), showed up at the entrance of the tunnel and started playing footie, while others waved flags and chanted against the occupation. As the match kicked off, dozens of Israeli soldiers rushed in and began to push and beat the participants, but the demonstrators held their ground despite the soldiers’ treatment. Three days later, on Tuesday (24th), Israeli forces raided the town of Beit Ommar. Several families were forced out of their homes as soldiers inspected and tampered within but no arrests were made.