In the last few days, several messages have been circulating on WhatsApp channels from which we learn that Hamas has numerous phones of living or dead Israelis who have been taken to the Gaza Strip. These are used to penetrate Israeli users’ WhatsApp groups and extract information from them.
This corroborates the statements of Israeli family members and friends of the abductees, who in several cases reported suddenly receiving calls in Arabic from the numbers of their missing sons and daughters. In one case, someone called an Israeli mother and told her in Hebrew that her son was dead. The mother burst into hysterics and asked who he was. He replied that his name was Mohammed and that he was a colonel in the Gaza Strip. Finally he says in Hebrew: “Zichrono Le’Bracha,” (“May his memory be blessed”), which is a traditional Jewish blessing. In another case, Mor Baider said she saw a video of her murdered grandmother on her personal Facebook page.
מור ביידר גילתה שסבתה נרצחה אחרי שמחבל פרץ לביתה, צילם את הזוועה והעלה את התיעוד לעמוד הפייסבוק שלה: "ראיתי את האסון הכי גדול שאפשר לדמיין" | משדר מיוחד
— חדשות 13 (@newsisrael13) October 9, 2023
Mor said through tears that the terrorist murdered her grandmother in her home in southern Israel. He then took a video of her bleeding corpse using her own cellphone and uploaded the image to her Facebook page via her phone. Palestinian terrorists did this and more with the smartphones of murdered Israelis.
But not only that, Hamas terrorists are trying to use the confiscated cellphones of dead or kidnapped Israelis to break into users’ WhatsApp groups in order to find out more strategic information about the police and army. If the telephone device belonged to a soldier who fell into their hands, then they search it for the contacts, for the first few hours, pretend to be the phone owner in order to ask for information about his unit in various WhatsApp groups. And some of them speak Hebrew well enough to pull this off. It was also announced in the media that Waze should not mark police barriers on the streets or police speed cameras. The Palestinians have confiscated too many cellphones from Israelis and we should therefore be careful with the reports.
Many across the country are receiving messages from their companies’ IT departments asking them to be careful about what they share in workplace WhatsApp groups. Some places even asked their employees to delete existing WhatsApp groups and open new ones. If someone receives suspicious WhatsApp messages, the first thing to do is ask questions that every Israeli knows the answers to, such as: “What are the three most important festivals” or “When is Independence Day celebrated?”
“They are also connecting with the new support groups and gathering information,” the security department wrote to staff at Hillel Yaffe Medical Center. It is then recommended to close the groups to messages except for administrators. They also stress that only administrators approve new people and ensure that all administrators of the groups are personally known. All members of the group that the administrators do not know personally should be removed, or even close the group and open a new one with only known group members.
Israel’s National Cyber Authority said it was not possible to rule out scenarios in which Hamas actually uses these devices and listed a number of rules. The cyber authority recommends not sharing information that could be used by the enemy – especially in large groups where you don’t know all the participants.
In addition, Israelis searching for their missing relatives in the south of the country have become targets of cybercriminals trying to get them to transfer money in exchange for information. The criminals are trying to exploit the fact that many Israelis have been taken hostage by Hamas militants and have now launched an extortion campaign via the instant messaging platform WhatsApp. Israel’s Cyber Directorate has confirmed that families desperately trying to reach their missing relatives are receiving WhatsApp messages from senders claiming to be in possession of vital information about the hostages being held in Gaza.
“Have you received an extortion attempt or a request to provide personal information, a password or a code on WhatsApp? Ignore them. Block the sender and report him to WhatsApp using the ‘Report’ button in the contact settings,” said the directorate. According to the organization, the perpetrators are most likely Arabs from Jordan. They claim they are close to the Palestinians in Gaza who are holding their missing relatives and are demanding an “evidence fee” of about 1,000 shekels to pass on information to the families. The scammers appear to use posts found on Facebook or other social networks and a profile picture of the missing person to trick families into paying. More than 900 people have been killed in Israel since Hamas’ attacks on Saturday morning, including 260 young people at a music festival. According to the Israeli government, more than 100 Israelis were kidnapped in the attacks, with most believed to have been taken to the Gaza Strip.
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