Anti-Israel hackers take over Google’s Palestine page

Traffic redirected to page telling readers Israel is Palestine

Pro-Palestinian hackers calling for changing Israel to Palestine on Google Maps hacked the Google Palestine web page.

The hackers on Monday diverted traffic from and redirected users to a hacked version of Google’s homepage.

“uncle google we say hi from Palestine to remember you that the country in google map not called israel. Its called Palestine,” the hacked page read.

The hackers also said on the page that changing “Isreal” on Google Maps to “Palestine” would be “revolution.” They said viewers should listen to singer Rihanna, and “be cool.”

“For a short period, some users visiting were redirected to a different website,” Google said in a statement. “Google services for the domain were not hacked. We’ve been in contact with the organization responsible for managing this domain name and the issue should be resolved.”

The domain reportedly was down for several hours on Tuesday. It was functioning normally at time of writing.

Google changed its regional search page from “Palestinian Territories” to “Palestine” in May, six months after the United Nations granted “Palestine” the status of “nonmember observer state.” The change angered Israeli officials, who said the designation prejudged the outcome of the then-stalled peace talks.

Google's Palestine homepage
Google’s Palestine homepage

Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev Elkin said in June that Google’s decision to change the “Palestinian Territories” edition of its search engine to “Palestine” endangered the peace process and should not be carried out by a hi-tech company, as the issue is political by nature. He asked Google to reconsider the move.

“We do not think that a large and respected company like Google, which deals in technology, should enter the arena of policy making,” the deputy foreign minister said at a Knesset Science and Technology Committee hearing. “The Israeli stance in the matter is well known — a Palestinian state, if established, will be the result of direct negotiations with the Palestinians,” he said.

Deputy Foreign Minister Ze'ev Elkin (photo credit: AP/Dan Balilty)
Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev Elkin (photo credit: AP/Dan Balilty)

The move by Google, which went into effect May 1, also prompted Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon to chide the search firm and asked if it would be inventing “the state of Funland” next.

Google representative Charles Hale, who also attended the Knesset committee meeting, said that the company does not purport to recognize the Palestinian Authority as a political entity with the status of a state. “This is an update procedure that is performed once in a while, during which other names have been changed as well,” Hall said.

Hale said the company’s decision was not based on political motives and was carried out only after other international organizations, such as the International Standardization Organization (ISO) and the International Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), undertook such changes themselves. “These organizations have changed the domain name, and we followed suit as a technical, nonpolitical procedure,” he said.

On a visit Monday to Google Israel’s main R&D center in Tel Aviv, President Shimon Peres said, “[Google] is good. This is a company that tries to help others, that asks itself what it can do to make the lives of people easier. And the results are great.”

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