Israeli attack against Hamas cyber headquarters in Gaza (2019)
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|Date||On 4 May 2019, an airstrike was conducted against a building that housed Hamas cyber operatives in Gaza.|
|Suspected actor||Israel. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) officially announced having targeted a building where the Hamas cyber operatives had worked, in retaliation for an earlier cyber operation launched by Hamas.|
|Target||Building located in Gaza which housed Hamas’ cyber headquarters.|
|Method||Kinetic operation. After having stopped the attempted cyber attack launched by Hamas through non-kinetic means, the IDF retaliated with an air strike against a building that housed Hamas cyber operatives.|
|Purpose||Retaliation and deterrence. The airstrike was conducted in retaliation for an attempted cyber attack carried out by Hamas, in the context of an escalation of violence between Israeli forces and Hamas.|
|Result||The air strike partially destroyed the building that housed Hamas’ cyber headquarters. An IDF’s spokesperson said that “Hamas no longer has cyber capabilities after our strike”. No official information was found about whether the air strike resulted in casualties among Hamas members and/or civilians.|
|Aftermath||The attack raised particular attention as the first case of a publicly announced kinetic attack used as immediate response to a non-kinetic operation during an armed conflict.|
|Analysed in||Scenario 18: Legal status of cyber operators during armed conflict|
Collected by: Giulia Carlini
- C Cimpanu, “In a first, Israel responds to Hamas hackers with an air strike”, 5 May 2019, ZDNet.
- IDF’s Twitter post of 5 May 2019.
- Cyber Defense Project (CDP) and Center for Security Studies (CSS) ETH Zürich, “Israel’s National Cybersecurity and Cyberdefense Posture”, 2020, at 12.
- V Romo, "Netanyahu Orders Continued Pounding In Gaza As 600 Rockets Fired Into Israel", 5 May 2019, NPR.
- DM Halbfinger, I Kershner, “After Intense Fighting in Gaza, Israel and Palestinians Observe Ceasefire”, 5 May 2019, The New York Times.
- Z Doffman, “Israel Responds To Cyber Attack With Air Strike On Cyber Attackers In World First”, 6 May 2019, Forbes.
- L Hay Newman, “What Israel's Strike on Hamas Hackers Means For Cyberwar”, 6 May 2019, Wired; R Chesney, “Crossing a Cyber Rubicon? Overreactions to the IDF’s Strike on the Hamas Cyber Facility”, 6 May 2019, Lawfare Blog.