Hamas Chief Ismail Haniyeh attends a meeting with members of international media in Gazaa

Hamas has once again been trying to obtain intelligence from Israeli troops stationed along the Gaza border using online messaging applications.

Posing as fellow soldiers, Hamas operatives contacted troops on the WhatsApp text messaging service and would ask for intelligence such as troop movements.

One combat soldier serving in the Paratrooper’s brigade received a text message on WhatsApp from an unknown person asking him to send the dates of the next exercises the brigade was expecting to hold in the coming months and when the troops were scheduled to leave the area.

Despite the Hamas operative sending the soldier information on the brigade, likely taken from another soldier the operative contacted, the paratrooper did not divulge any intelligence and alerted his commanders.

According to Ynet news, an investigation was launched into how the Hamas operative got his hands on the classified information.

The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit acknowledged the efforts by Hamas to collect intelligence from soldiers, saying in a statement that “The IDF is aware of the enemy’s activity and is following its efforts over social media. We call on all military and civilian personnel to act carefully and responsibly.

“We would like to point out that this year marks the anniversary of Operation Heartbreaker, in which the IDF exposed Hamas activity against IDF soldiers on social networks. The operation contributed greatly to raising the awareness and alertness of the soldiers, which is also reflected in the current event,” the military added.

The IDF recently launched two operations uncovering networks of Hamas operatives trying to lure in soldiers through smartphone applications. According to the army, there have been hundreds of reports of suspicious individuals approaching soldiers online since January 2017.

The military first uncovered Hamas’s attempt to honeypot male soldiers online that January in an operation dubbed “Hunter’s Network,” where dozens of accounts on social networks like Facebook were identified as being operated with false or stolen identities, with the intent to extract classified information from both regular and reservist soldiers.

The IDF’s Military Intelligence Directorate later launched “Operation Heartbreaker” and uncovered another cell behind suspicious online actions targeting soldiers on social networks as well as on messaging applications such as WhatsApp, using Israeli numbers to get soldiers to download applications from Google’s official store.

The military urged troops to only confirm friendship requests from people they know personally, to not upload any classified information to any social network, and to only download applications from the original App Store (rather than downloading applications from links).

Troops were also warned that if they were approached by a stranger online, to be aware that it might be an attempt to honeypot them, especially if the suspicious individual is unable to meet in person.

The IDF has urged all soldiers, including reserve soldiers, to report to their commander and to security officials if the suspicious individual asks them to download applications and if they feel that their phone may have been compromised.


Read more: The Jerusalem Post