Army claims Hamas operatives flirted with soldiers and convinced them to download a ‘simple app’ to fish for information
Using photos of young women and Hebrew slang, the Palestinian militant group Hamas chatted up dozens of Israeli soldiers online, gaining control of their phone cameras and microphones, the military said on Wednesday.
An officer, who briefed reporters on the alleged scam, said the group that runs the Gaza Strip uncovered no major military secrets in the intelligence-gathering operation.
Hamas spokesmen did not immediately respond to requests by Reuters for comment.
Mainly using Facebook, Hamas used fake online identities and photos of young women, apparently found on the Internet, to lure soldiers in, the officer said.
“Just a second, I’ll send you a photo, my dear,” one “woman” wrote.
“OK. Ha-ha,” the soldier replied, before a photo of a blonde woman in a swimsuit popped up.
The “woman” then suggested they both download “a simple app that lets us have a video chat”, according to an example of an exchange provided by the officer.
The officer said most of the soldiers were low-ranking and that Hamas was mostly interested in gathering information about Israeli army manoeuvres, forces and weaponry in the Gaza area.
The military discovered the hacking when soldiers began reporting other suspicious online activity on social networks and uncovered dozens of fake identities used by the group to target the soldiers, the officer said.
In 2001, a 16-year-old Israeli was lured to the occupied West Bank, where he was shot dead by Palestinian gunmen, after entering into an online relationship with a Palestinian woman who posed as an American tourist.
The IDF blog offered advice for its soldiers following the revelations:
“Turning off the GPS on your phone when it’s not in use can make yourself harder to track, and only clicking links from people you trust can help, too,” read the blog.
“If anything looks fishy – like an email with an uncharacteristic subject line and an attachment you’re not expecting to receive – don’t download or click it. Don’t accept friend requests on social media from people you haven’t met, and don’t download any apps from sources you’re unfamiliar with.”