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Israel Accuses Hezbollah of Trying to Hack UN Lebanon Peacekeepers

Israel Accuses Hezbollah of Trying to Hack UN Lebanon Peacekeepers

Wednesday, 29 June, 2022 - 09:00
UN peacekeepers (UNIFIL) stand near a UN vehicle in Naqoura, southern Lebanon, Oct. 14, 2020. (Reuters)

Israel accused the Iranian-backed Lebanese Hezbollah party on Wednesday of conducting a cyber operation designed to disrupt a UN peacekeeping mission on the border between the countries, and threatened harsh Israeli retaliation against enemy hackers.

The allegation - to which there was no immediate response from Beirut, Tehran or the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) - came as Israeli-Iranian tensions soar.

In what he termed a first public disclosure of the incident, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz said: "Iranian security institutions in cooperation with Hezbollah (recently) launched a cyber operation with the aim of stealing materials about UNIFIL activities and deployment in the area, for Hezbollah's use".

"This is yet another direct attack by Iran and Hezbollah on Lebanese citizens and on Lebanon's stability," he told a cyber conference at Tel Aviv University, without elaborating.

Established in 1978, UNIFIL patrols Lebanon's southern border. It is charged with monitoring the ceasefire that ended the last war between Hezbollah and Israel in 2006.

Israel has accused Hezbollah gunmen of setting up clandestine positions at the border in defiance of UNIFIL. Lebanese officials say Israel continues air force overflights of their territory in violation of the ceasefire.

Gantz said an Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps cyber unit called "Shahid Kaveh" had "conducted research to damage ships, gas stations and industrial plants in several Western countries including Britain, the US, France and Israel".

Britain's Sky News reported similar allegations last year, saying the Iranian embassy in London had not responded to them.

Gantz hinted that Israel - which is widely believed to have waged cyber war against Iran's nuclear facilities and other infrastructure - may retaliate physically against enemy hackers.

"We know who they are, we target them and those who direct them. They are in our sights as we speak - and not just in cyber-space," he said. "There is a variety of possible responses to cyber-attacks - in and outside of the cyber-domain."

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