Iran is behind cyber attacks against Israel, including during this summer’s Gaza conflict, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said on Sunday evening. He spoke of the significance of Internet security both in the fight against terrorism and for the country’s future economy.
“I want to make clear that the party behind the cyber attacks against Israel is first and foremost Iran,” Netanyahu said as he addressed the fourth international cyber security conference at Tel Aviv University.
This includes cyber attacks by Hamas and other terrorist groups, Netanyahu added.
“Iran and its proxies take advantage of the security and anonymity of cyber space” to attack Israel and other countries, Netanyahu said.
In recent weeks, the international community has focused on the growing threat from Islamic State, with US Secretary of State John Kerry visiting the region
to attempt to pull together a coalition against the fundamentalist Islamic terrorist group.
But on Sunday in several public comments, Netanyahu attempted to refocus the debate on Iran.
“ISIS [Islam State] and Hamas and al-Qaida and al-Nusra and Boko Haram and Hezbollah, supported by Iran – they’re branches of the same poisonous tree,” he told a visiting Israel Bonds leadership delegation.
In the evening, he told the cyber security conference that Israel fights terrorist groups backed by Iran on the ground and in cyber space.
“The cyber field is increasingly becoming a battlefield,” he said.
During Operation Protective Edge, Hamas attacked Israel from the air by launching rockets and on the ground through infiltration tunnels. But it also fought Israel in cyber space by attempting to attack the country’s Internet infrastructure, the prime minister said.
But with rockets and tunnels “you know where they originate. You know who the enemy is,” he said. “In the cyber domain there are no sirens and there are no instantly discernible enemies,” Netanyahu said.
He credited Israel’s ability to halt those attacks on investments the country had already made in the field, particularly in the defense industry.
“There is an Iron Dome of cyber security that parallels the Iron Dome against the rockets. This allows us the operating space to continue fighting, to continue with daily life in Israel,” Netanyahu said.
Israel is investing in making quantum leaps in the field of cyber security, which can also provide an enormous engine of economic growth for the country.
“We are committed to maintaining Israel’s position as a global cyber power and as such we have to implement a policy that protects cyber space as an open space and as the basis for global growth,” Netanyahu said.
There is not a person or nation on earth who will not need cyber security, he said.
Cyber security and Internet development have been a top priority for Israel for the last three years. “We are building an Israeli cyber environment with an eye to the long term,” he said, predicting that Israel will continue to be a leader in this field.
“This will be the century where cyber security will be achieved or we will lose the tremendous opportunities that face humanity,” Netanyahu said.