Iranian hackers post footage of Jerusalem attack obtained from major security agency

Officials confirm clip taken from agency surveillance camera, but say no security breach occurred; Moses Staff group claimed to have hacked dozens of cameras earlier this year

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent

Footage from a surveillance camera shows a deadly bombing attack in Jerusalem, November 24, 2022. The video was published by the Moses Staff Iranian hacker group. (Screenshot: Telegram, used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
Footage from a surveillance camera shows a deadly bombing attack in Jerusalem, November 24, 2022. The video was published by the Moses Staff Iranian hacker group. (Screenshot: Telegram, used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

Previously unseen footage that was published on Thursday on the Telegram social media service by an Iranian hacker group showing a bombing attack in Jerusalem a day earlier came from surveillance cameras used by a major Israeli security organization.

The group, Moses Staff, claimed it had hacked security cameras thought initially to have been operated by police. Earlier this year, the group published footage from dozens of cameras throughout Jerusalem and some in Tel Aviv.

“We’ve been surveillance [sic] you for many years, at every moment and on each step. This is just one part of our surveillance over your activities through access to CCTV cameras in the country. We had said that, we will strike you while you never would have imagined,” the group wrote on its Telegram channel in January.

Police, however, denied their cameras were operating in the area at the time of the attack, and the Jerusalem Municipality said the footage was not taken by a camera belonging to the city.

Police said they had been in possession of the clip since several hours after the twin bombing attack on Wednesday morning that killed a teenager and wounded more than 20 others, denying some reports claiming the hacker group had wiped the police copy of the footage.

Security officials confirmed that the camera in question was used by a major security organization, though they did not specify which.

Officials downplayed the incident, saying the camera, which can be remotely controlled to pan, tilt, and zoom, belonged to a civilian company that works with Israel’s security establishment.

“There is no security breach or leakage of classified information,” one official told Army Radio. The official said the camera is used “in a limited manner” by the security agency, and was not connected to its systems.

“It is likely that the hackers did not even know that this was a camera used by security agencies,” an official told Channel 13 news.

“The effect of the incident is mostly to sow fear,” an official told the Ynet news site.

Further details were still barred from publication.

A security camera used by a security organization that was hacked by Iranian hackers, in Jerusalem, November 24, 2022 . (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

The same hacker group claimed responsibility in June for a cyberattack that caused rocket sirens to go off in some areas of Jerusalem and the southern city of Eilat.

Moses Staff in the past year said it leaked sensitive information about soldiers, which appeared to be publicly available information on LinkedIn, and aerial imagery of Israel, which was obtained through a commercial site.

In another unsubstantiated assertion, the group claimed to have caused an army observation balloon to crash in the Gaza Strip in June. The military said the balloon wasn’t tethered correctly.

Police and security personnel at the scene of a terror attack in Jerusalem, on November 23, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussil/Flash90)

No group claimed responsibility for the Wednesday morning attack, which included twin bombings, though it was praised by the Hamas and Islamic Jihad terror organizations.

The first explosion occurred close to the main entrance to Jerusalem in Givat Shaul, shortly after 7 a.m., a peak commuter hour. The second blast occurred shortly after 7:30 a.m., at Ramot Junction, where heavily trafficked roads meet, in the capital’s northwest.

The first blast killed 16-year-old Israeli-Canadian yeshiva student Aryeh Schupak. At least 23 people were hurt in both bombings.

Police deployed forces to Jerusalem and other parts of the country Wednesday, while launching a manhunt for the suspected terror cell.

The head of the police operations division said the “two high-quality, powerful explosive devices [capable of] a high level of damage” were hidden behind the bus stop and in a bush. The remotely detonated devices were packed with nails and ball bearings to maximize casualties, according to police officials.

16-year-old Aryeh Schupak, killed in a bombing attack at the entrance of Jerusalem, November 23, 2022. (Courtesy)

Due to the nature of the attack, with two near-identical bombs exploding within half an hour of each other at two bus stops, Deputy Commissioner Sigal Bar Zvi said police suspected an organized cell was behind it, rather than just one person.

Bombings on buses and in public places were a hallmark of the Second Intifada from 2000 to 2005, but mostly subsided over the last 17 years, which Israeli officials attributed to increased security measures, including the West Bank security barrier, and better intelligence.

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