19:01 GMT +316 February 2019
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    A member of the Israeli security forces carries flags of the Palestinian movement Hamas.

    ‘We’re Witnessing the Growing Capabilities of Hamas’ - Scholar

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    Hamas has allegedly developed fake dating apps in a bid to hack mobile devices of Israeli soldiers. According to an army official, hundreds of Israeli troops were asked to download the hoax app granting developers the ability to track down the owners’ location and then used soldiers phones as listening devices and microphones.

    Sputnik has discussed this with Dr. Kobi Michael, senior research fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University and former deputy director general and head of the Palestinian desk at the Ministry for Strategic Affairs.

    Sputnik: In your view, how likely is it that Hamas had the capability and resources to develop these types of malicious apps?

    Dr. Kobi Michael: I think that we are witnessing the growing capabilities of Hamas. It's not the first time that Hamas has tried to use such methods and to use their cybersphere. They have some good experts and they have some accumulated knowledge which is provided to them by Hezbollah, by the Iranians. I think that this is part of a broader strategy that they have in their struggle and conflict with Israel; they're trying all the fronts.

    Sputnik: Some experts noted that this move by Hamas actually indicates that the organization has good knowledge of young Israelis and their state of mind, what do you think of that?

    Dr. Kobi Michael: It is not surprising. I mean, they are our neighbors. They're not so far distant from Israel and they are pretty familiar with Israeli society or at least the Israeli media. They have, as I said before, some good experts who are working in order to accumulate knowledge and information about Israel, about Israeli society and about the IDF.

    READ MORE: No Love Here: Israel Accuses Hamas of Spying on Soldiers Via Fake Dating Apps

    So they are following Israel. They are following the IDF. They are following Israeli society. They're pretty aware of the things that are taking place here in Israel and they are acting in accordance to that. The Palestinians and the Israelis are very close. We have, unfortunately, a very serious conflict between us, but we're close societies geographically, and I would say, from a mental point of view, I'm not surprised that they have knowledge and familiarity about Israeli society.

    Sputnik: Israel's military said that this is kind of a new way that Hamas has tried to confront Israel. Do you agree with that? And has Israel used similar methods?

    Dr. Kobi Michael: The first question was if this is a new way of Hamas — no, it's not a new way. It has been done before several times and they're improving themselves, and I think that they are acquiring more capacities, more knowledge and more expertise in this regard, and we have to be more aware of their capacities and their motivation in this regard. With regard to the second question, the answer is — yes, of course, cyber is part of our life, part of our world today and this is part of the cognitive war today that Israel, Hamas, the Palestinians, the entire world is involved in.

    Just last week or so we had a very big conference at the INSS (Institute for National Security Studies) which was titled "The Cognitive War: Campaign along the border with Gaza," and the idea of the cognitive dimension of the current warfare is something which is very much in existence. It is there and therefore Hamas uses its capacities and Israel uses its capacities and this is also cognitive war and war of brains and technologies and this is the reason by the way that Hamas is not only a terrorist organization. Hamas is a semi-state entity with state capacities, and therefore they have to be much more responsible and accountable.

    Sputnik: Do you think that the Israeli army needs to be more responsible and accountable for preparing troops to deal with this kind of threat?

    Dr. Kobi Michael: I think it is pretty well understood and clear that the IDF does make the efforts in this regard, the educational efforts. But we're dealing with youngsters. The IDF soldiers are mandatory soldiers at the age of 18, 19, 20, and the mobiles are part of our life today. There are some severe restrictions in the IDF with regard to the use of mobiles during operations, but there are always breaches and there are always some discipline problems.

    READ MORE: Hamas Allegedly Paid Gaza Family to Accuse Israel of Baby Girl's Death

    I think that this game is not so big, as far as I understand, we're talking about a few hundred soldiers and most of them, by the way, are not combat soldiers. They're not soldiers from the front lines on the Gaza border. They are soldiers that serve in the headquarters far from there but it's also forbidden. I hope that the IDF does what it has to do in order to prevent such events in the future.

    Sputnik: What measures are taken against those soldiers who did, will there be disciplinary measures?

    Dr. Kobi Michael: Yes, of course, and sometime very severe disciplinary measures. The IDF approach in this regard is very strict, but we have to understand that there will always be breaches and violations of the regulations and the orders. This is a sort of ongoing internal warfare in the IDF with regard to the discipline of soldiers.

    The views and opinions expressed by the speaker and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.



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