NOTE: Please read my latest piece published by Middle East Eye on Israel’s new fascist government.
חשיפה: מצלמת האבטחה שנפרצה בידי האקרים איראניים שייכת ליחידה 730 של השב”כ .אירן גם חשוד בביצוע הפיגוע. פרטים אלה אסורים לפרסום לפי צא”פ.
— Local Focus – Security Alerts (@LocalFocus1) November 23, 2022
Iranian hackers penetrated an Israeli security camera and disseminated video footage of a Palestinian terror bombing in Jerusalem, which killed one Israeli and injured nearly 50. One of the injured was mortally wounded and is not expected to survive. Three others are in critical condition.
Other critical elements of the story are under a judicial gag order secured by Israeli police. I am reporting here a number of important aspects of this story in definance of the gag order. Security officials believe, according to a well-informed source, that Iran is behind the attack, taking revenge for a series of Israeli attacks in Syria and elsewhere. Yesterday, a senior IRG commander was assassinated in Syria. The Iranians blamed Israel for the attack.
The same sources say Iran chose the site of the bombing because it knew that the hacked camera would produce footage of the attack, which it could disseminate. The gag order also prohibits reporting that the security agency responsible for the camera is Shin Bet Unit 730, which provides protection for Israel’s most senior political leaders including the president, prime minister, foreign and defense ministers. The road is part of a route that all VIPs would travel out of Jerusalem to Tel Aviv and the north. The security camera would have monitored it to ensure the safety of the passengers under the agency’s protection.
The attack and accompanying video footage are a spectacular assault on Israel’s vaunted security and cyber-surveillance apparatus. Iran and its Palestinian partners not only planted the bomb, but filmed the explosion from a camera maintained by the Shin Bet unit responsible for protecting Israel’s most important political leaders. They’ve gotten to the belly of the beast.
Haaretz offered other possibilities:
It’s unclear how the footage was obtained – whether a security camera was hacked, or a database used by that security agency was breached or if the footage was obtained after being distributed by that security agency to a third party.
Whichever one is correct, Israel has suffered a major security lapse. Not only were Palestinian militants able to mount two separate bombings within an hour of each other in Israel’s most heavily monitored city; Iran had compromised some of the Shin Bet’s most critical cyber-infrastructure.
The same hacker group, Moses Staff, has released video footage of other security cameras in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. It is embarrassing that a country with one of the most advanced surveillance systems in the world and presumably the cyber security capabilities to protect them, should offer hackers repeated opportunities to exploit vulnerabilities.
Further, whenever there is a terror attack the Shin Bet quickly releases information identifying the attacker and his political affiliation. In the case of these bombings, it has released nothing. Though authorities know that the bombs were activated by cell phone, they seem not to have (yet) been able to track the call, the phone, or the person who activated the bombs.
The attack comes at a particularly unstable moment. After five elections over three years, Israel has elected a government with a clear majority. It will be the most racist, fascist government in its history. Some of the new ministers are among the most thuggish who’ve ever served in such posts. If we think Israel has used massive and excessive force in attempting to cow Palestinians until now (over 150 Palestinians have been murdered in nightly Israeli raids this year alone), the new right-wing figures expected to take up key security posts will advocate blood-curdling policies designed to incite even greater violence.
Attacks like this are a shot across the bow of the new government. Its Palestinian perpetrators are, in effect taunting it, saying no matter how violent you are; no matter how many of us you kill–we will never succumb, never give up. The Iranians have a different message: whatever your capabilities may be, we too have our own. You, by no means, own this playing field.
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.