Hackers sabotage Arab-language 'hasbara' site

Arab-language web site which presents Western, Israeli press to Arab world hacked by 'Gaza lovers.'

infoelarab.org screen shot 248 88  (photo credit: Courtesy)
infoelarab.org screen shot 248 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
An Arab-language Web site dedicated to presenting Western and Israeli news stories to the Arab world was hacked on Sunday morning by a group signing off as "Gaza lovers." The site, infoelarab.org, edited by former ambassador to Egypt Zvi Mazel and maintained by The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, was reduced to a black screen featuring a photograph of an Arab terrorist brandishing a weapon. Visitors were unable to access the site, hacked by a group calling itself "The C-H-Team," and were instead faced with an abusive paragraph in broken Hebrew referring to the site staff as "children of monkeys and pigs." The hacking was discovered on Sunday morning by the Web site team at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. The Internet supplier was working to restore the site. In the site's 18 months of operation, many small-scale attacks have taken place, according Mazel, but Sunday's incident was the worst. A few months ago, his team received 150 empty e-mails within seconds - an unsuccessful attempt to crash the Web site. "I knew [sabotage] would happen, because I am aware of what happens in the Arab world, I have been following the Arab world in the last 40 years." he said. Mazel couldn't confirm whether Sunday's incident was connected to the barrage of e-mails received previously. "They tried to do something in the last few months, but they did not succeed. Now they put their most intelligent fellows on it. It might be the same people, I don't know." The Web site attracts 2,000 to 3,000 visitors a month, some of whom hail from Morocco, Saudi Arabia and the West Bank. Mazel emphasized he was surprised by the number of positive reactions he had received. "Some of [the feedback] was negative... They say it's a Zionist site... But quite a number were positive and they told us that they think we can make peace, Israel has a right to exist and we can cooperate together," he said. Mazel remained resolute. "We will continue... The principle is to tell Arabs what they cannot get from their own press. In the Arab press, they don't write everything about what's going on in the West and what the West think about them," he said. "One of the aspects of confrontations between Israel and the Arab world is also on the level of ideas... [The hackers] don't accept criticism or other opinions. We live in a completely different society where everything is free, where self-criticism [appears] in the press. "There is a lot of fighting and terrorism, but we must try to [facilitate] dialogue and we are doing it. They don't want it and by hacking into such sites, they tell us, 'Whatever you say isn't interesting, you are the bad fellows and we are going to fight you.'"