AL-QUDS (Dispatches) – Days ahead of its general election, the Zionist regime is on alert for possible cyberattacks or influence campaigns from foreign rivals, aimed at sowing further tensions within its bitterly divided population.
Election day on Tuesday is a “desirable target for influence campaigns”, communications minister Yoaz Hendel’s office said before the occupying regime holds its fifth vote in less than four years, as its era of unprecedented political deadlock grinds on.
The ministry and the so-called national cyber directorate have been preparing to combat direct attacks on the voting infrastructure, including hacking efforts targeting the Central Elections Committee’s servers and websites.
But those concerns are secondary, partly because Zionists vote by paper ballot. More serious are online campaigns aimed at undermining confidence in the regime’s democratic process, officials and experts said.
Elections committee chair Isaac Amit warned of efforts to “delegitimize the results”, thereby “... causing schisms and suspicion”.
For Ofir Barel, a researcher at Tel Aviv University, there is evidence of efforts “to try to influence Israeli society “.
“We see in many instances of accounts that can come in large groups of hundreds and either spread divisive and inciting messages to harm the image of a certain politician,” said Barel, of the university’s Workshop for Science, Technology and Security.
He noted that the Zionist regime has grown more vulnerable to such attacks given its entrenched political divisions, with the electorate having returned inconclusive results in four straight elections and much of the nation split between supporters of hawkish ex-premier Benjamin Netanyahu and his opponents.
“The aim is not to harm a specific politician but to encourage polarization and chaos in Israeli politics, which is already complicated due to the political gridlock,” Barel told AFP.
The Israel Internet Association wrote a letter to Facebook’s parent company Meta last month warning of “the lack of sufficient preparation of the popular social networks ahead of the Israel elections”.
The letter pointed to Meta’s more robust efforts to ensure election integrity in other nations with volatile -- and occasionally violent -- political climates, like the United States, Brazil, Kenya, the Philippines, Ethiopia and India.
But the group said it had “research-based doubts” about Meta’s community standards enforcement in the occupied territories, citing lack of Hebrew monitoring capacity as a possible cause.