A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman
January 16, 2012- Hacker Attack on Israeli Sites, Local Government Strike, Tensions Over Hormuz?
The Israeli news was dominated today by stories of a online computer attack organized by a Saudi hacker on Israeli institutions. Today the hacker and his accomplices managed to shut down both the El Al web site and the website of the Israeli stock exchange for a short period. Today's attack was a simple "denial of service" attack. This sort of attack is accomplished by overloading the server with thousands of "hits". The servers themselves were not breeched. However, it was embarrassing that Israel, with some of the leading security companies in the world, seems so vulnerable. Today Israeli banks announced that for the moment they were limiting online banking access to customers trying to connect from within Israel.
A strange strike started today in Israel. The local governments (not their employees) called a strike today. Why? The local governments called a strike because the central government is cutting back support to the cities and forcing them to spend money on additional mandates. The Netanyahu government found a way to raise money to pay for its agenda, without raising taxes or cutting back on defense... They chose to just take the money from the city governments and force them to raise taxes. As a result, today there was no garbage pickup in the cities, no school buses (however, schools were generally open, though not for special ed. students). On the plus side, there were no parking tickets given out today. It's not clear how long the strike will last.
The rifts between the Charedi world and the rest of the Jewish Israelis continued to boil over the course of the last few days. Yesterday a group of Charedi leaders, well respected in the Charedi community, were arrested and accused of allegedly stealing money that was donated to charitable causes and spending it themselves. Parts of the Charedi community were incensed that the police would dare arrest anyone from their community. A group of Charedim held small riots, both in Jerusalem and in Bet Shemesh, demanding the firing of the Jerusalem police chief. The problem has extended beyond these arrests, with continued incidents in Bet Shemesh-- punctuated by Charedi kids literally attacking (throwing stones at) modern orthodox kids (9 year olds). It's really hard to believe.
Tensions continue to mount between the United States and Iran. Iran continues to warn that it will block the Straits of Hormuz, if the Europeans go ahead with their oil sanctions. The United States is taking the Iranian threat to close the straits very seriously. President Obama sent a warning letter to the leader of the Iran, in four different ways. In the letter it is believed Obama warned the Iranians that an attempt to close the Straits of Hormuz would be considered an act of war. It's not clear that the Iranians are being deterred.