Israel aghast at Iran cyberattack on civilian water infrastructure — TV report
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Israel aghast at Iran cyberattack on civilian water infrastructure — TV report

Hack last month said to be discussed at security cabinet meeting Thursday, with senior officials saying it crossed a red line: ‘This goes against all the codes of war’

Illustrative: The Gush Dan wastewater treatment plant in Rishon Letzion is seen on November 22, 2018. (Isaac Harari/Flash90)
Illustrative: The Gush Dan wastewater treatment plant in Rishon Letzion is seen on November 22, 2018. (Isaac Harari/Flash90)

A meeting this week of the high-level security cabinet, the first to be held in months, dealt in part with a recent Iranian cyberattack on Israel’s water infrastructure, Israeli television reported Saturday.

Quoting unnamed senior officials, Channel 13 news said the attack in late April is viewed as a significant escalation by Iran and a crossing of a red line because it targeted civil infrastructure.

“This is an attack that goes against all the codes of war. Even from the Iranians we didn’t expect something like this,” an official was quoted saying.

The attack did minimal damage, though problems were reported at some facilities in local councils, the officials said.

Israel was now weighing how and if to respond, the network said.

According to the report, ministers who took part in Thursday’s security cabinet meeting had to sign confidentiality forms.

Illustrative: A cybersecurity expert stands in front of a map of Iran as he speaks to journalists about the techniques of Iranian hacking, September 20, 2017, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. (AP/Kamran Jebreili)

On Thursday, Fox News reported that Iran was behind the attack, with hackers using American servers to carry out the breach.

A senior US Department of Energy official told Fox News that the Trump administration was committed to protecting allies from cyberattacks but would not comment on the specific incident, saying an investigation was ongoing.

There was no official confirmation of the report by Israeli or US officials.

The attack took place on April 24-25 on numerous water and sewage facilities across the country, according to the Ynet news site.

At the time, the Water Authority and Israel National Cyber Directorate confirmed an “attempted cyber breach on water command and control systems.”

“The attempted attack was dealt with by the Water Authority and National Cyber Directorate. It should be emphasized that there was no harm to the water supply and it operated, and continues to operate, without interruption,” it said.

Iran — whose regime avowedly seeks Israel’s destruction — and Israel have engaged in covert cyber-warfare for over a decade, including reported efforts by the Jewish state and US to remotely sabotage the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program. Israel has also in recent weeks stepped up a bombing campaign on Iran-linked forces in Syria, concerned at Iran’s ongoing efforts to establish a potent military presence there from which to attack Israel. The Iranian-funded and -armed Hezbollah terror group faces off against Israel from Lebanon, and Iran backs Palestinian terror groups in the West Bank and Gaza.

The Islamic Republic is smarting from one of the world’s most severe COVID-19 outbreaks. Experts have recently warned that the coronavirus pandemic has created a perfect storm for cyberattacks, with millions of people working in unfamiliar, less secure circumstances and eager for information about the virus and with new organizational policies being implemented.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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