Nicola Perugini, a good friend (online) and co-author with Neve Gordon of numerous articles and a new book on the Israel-Palestine conflict, was sitting in a Ramallah cafe recently. He was working on his laptop when the page he was viewing was replaced by the image displayed here. It is a recruitment page for the Israeli Shin Bet, asking for Palestinians who want to earn big bucks and keep the world safe (for Israel), to contact the phone number listed.
Nicola published this story at the London Review of Books, where it was titled with the misnomer, 1-800 MOSSAD. Of course, the Mossad doesn’t recruit Palestinian spies. The Shin Bet does. So it should more aptly be titled, 1-800 SHINBET. Interestingly, Israel domestic security service, like the Israeli government, does not recognize Palestinian sovereignty. It considers Palestine part of Israel.
Here is the English translation of the page:
Do you have any information? We can help you!
Who We Are
Our responsibility towards the two peoples [Israelis and Palestinians] is to preserve security and safety. We want to ensure a life of dignity and freedom for all.
Our goal is to fight all forms of terrorism and violence, and to promote peace. We have considerable capabilities, most importantly our human resources.
What We Request
You have the chance to earn a lot of money if you will provide us with information about:
1. Terrorist activities
2. Tunnels under borders
3. Planned attacks
4. Hostages and missing people
The original domain, Helpmegaza.com, has been taken down. A domain name which suggests there’s a personal profit (“Help me”) to be made from exploiting Gaza is supremely ironic. Here’s the Domain Tools website info which indicates the page is registered in Petah Tikvah. It has a robot.txt page ensuring it isn’t web crawled nor archived in the Wayback Machine. Apparently, it has been recruiting Palestinian spies in Gaza and the West Bank for two years. Note also, that the Mossad maintains a similar site seeking informers to betray Hezbollah commanders.
Some of the Gaza domain registration information is obviously fake. But one intriguing bit stands out. The technical registration information is for a high-tech center in Haifa, which houses some of the world’s major corporations doing business in Israel. The company listed is Omega Advanced Technology Center MATAM (telephone 972-4-8560514). I haven’t found any other reference to the company except this one. It’s perfectly credible that Unit 8200 would be operating at MATAM as well. Or that it would contract this work to one of the companies in this center. Either whoever did this job was very sloppy or MATAM/Omega is part of the hoax as well.
It’s unlikely the Shin Bet itself performed the technical measures necessary to serve this page on Nicola’s laptop. More likely this little feat was engineered by those tech whizzes in Unit 8200, the IDF’s SIGINT outfit. I’m guessing that it has either engineered a backdoor into the Palestinian ISP; or that it’s figured out a way to inject web pages as Palestinians surf the web. Of course, it’s also possible they were personally targeting Nicola himself, though I doubt in this case their efforts are that individualized.
Silverstein has published Tikun Olam since 2003, It exposes the secrets of the Israeli national security state. He lives in Seattle, but his heart is in the east. He publishes regularly at Middle East Eye, the New Arab, and Jacobin Magazine. His work has also appeared in Al Jazeera English, The Nation, Truthout and other outlets.