Friday 27 October 2000

Middle East conflict spills into cyberspace

27 October 2000

By Matthew Kalman
JERUSALEM — Israeli and Arab Internet hackers went to war Thursday, paralyzing each other's Web sites with an arsenal of desktop weapons that managed to penetrate the most sophisticated defenses.
The Israeli Knesset Web site was frozen for hours after it was "spammed" — overloaded with hundreds of thousands of electronic messages. Similar attacks brought down the main Israeli government portal and the Foreign Ministry Web site for more than 30 hours. Attacks also continued through the night on the Israel Defense Forces Web site.
The Web site of the Hezbollah, the Lebanese Islamic movement that captured three Israeli soldiers and an Israeli businessman in Switzerland two weeks ago, was successfully penetrated by a hacker who replaced its blistering anti-Israel rhetoric with a rippling Israeli flag and a soundtrack of Hatikvah, the Israeli national anthem. Sites belonging to other groups such as Hamas and the Palestinian Information Center were also targeted.
News from the e-world battle lines:
A Lebanese hacker, identified only as Walid, told the Beirut Daily Star newspaper of his plan to hack the Knesset server late Wednesday night. "We'll target and hack Israeli Web sites one by one. This will continue," he said. He warned that the cyberwar could intensify, with Israelis and Arabs trying to e-mail viruses that would destroy each other's systems.
The Israeli army hired AT&T on Thursday to reinforce its service and protect it from
crashing, an army spokesman said. Israeli security officials said they had traced the attacks to Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and servers in Europe and North America.
Netvision, Israel's largest service provider, hosts the Knesset and Foreign Ministry Web sites.
The company's other services also were crippled, with private users unable to access their e-mail for much of the day.
"We are taking measures, which for obvious reasons we would rather not reveal, to prevent similar attacks," said Gilad Rabinovich, NetVision's general manager.
Arab hackers swapped information through Internet chat rooms and two sites, UmmahUnity and Tripod, offered advice and downloadable programs to assist anyone who wanted to join the cyberattack against Israeli sites.
As in the real-life clashes over the past month that have claimed more than 130 lives, most of them Palestinians, there was a dispute over who fired the first shot in the virtual war.
Lebanese hackers say the attack on the Israeli Web sites was a response to a call two weeks ago for pro-Israel users to flood the Hezbollah Web site with e-mails.

Saturday 7 October 2000

Boots uses sun's rays to power its stores

The Sunday Times
October 7, 2000

Matthew Kalman

BOOTS, the high-street chemist, is planning an investment in solar power to provide environmentally friendly energy for its stores. Boots executives plan to install several trial units made by Solel Solar Systems, an Israeli company. If the trial is successful, Boots will roll out the units across its stores.
The units trap sunlight in solar panels mounted on the roofs or walls. Solel says they are capable of providing 70% of a building's hot water and air-conditioning yet pose no environmental threat. Once the units have been installed, they do not consume fuel and have minimal maintenance costs.
Avi Brenmiller, chief executive of Jerusalem-based Solel, says the patented system is 50% more efficient than existing alternatives and is suitable for northern Europe, with its relative lack of sunshine.
Solel's Vac 2008 is four metres long with a heat-collecting element consisting of a stainless-steel tube suspended in a vacuum inside a tubular glass sheath. The element is mounted on a parabolic solar reflector coated with silver. This concentrates the sun's rays onto the metal tube, which is coated with a mixture of metal and ceramic particles in a secret process. Water passes through the tube and is heated by sunlight. The special coating and the vacuum insulate the tube so that once it is heated it retains 97% of the energy.
Temperatures inside the element can reach up to 400 degrees centigrade, enabling it to provide air-conditioning without using electricity. In sunny climates, Solel says its generators can produce enough electricity to power a hospital, office building or even a village. Brenmiller says: "It hasn't been possible until now to manufacture such efficient collectors to reach the temperatures needed to produce enough energy at a low-enough cost. The unique methods used to make the system mean it can be used even in climates without much sunshine, such as Britain."
Rionay, an Eastbourne company, distributes Solel systems in Britain.

Tuesday 3 October 2000

Violence, death toll climb in Mideast

Israeli army uses helicopter gunships, missiles against civilian Palestinian targets

Tuesday, October 3, 2000

By Matthew Kalman

GAZA CITY -- It was the moment 16-year-old Shadi Abu Dakka had been waiting for since his best friend was killed four years ago.

In 1996, Israeli soldiers shot Khaled Khattib dead as he tried to remove the Israeli flag from the top of a lookout post at the Netzarim army base in the Gaza Strip.

Yesterday, Mr. Abu Dakka scaled the same flagpole and succeeded in removing the flag bearing the blue Star of David. But before he could replace it with the green, black, red and white colours of the Palestinian flag he was carrying, an Israeli sniper shot him in the leg.

"I fulfilled my dream and the wish of my best friend, Khaled," Mr. Abu Dakka said as he lay in the orthopedic ward at Shifa Hospital in Gaza City. "Every time I passed near that base, the only thing I could think of was how to bring down the Israeli flag. There is no reason why an Israeli flag should be hoisted on Palestinian land."

He said he knew the risk he was taking and was prepared to sacrifice his life yesterday, the fifth day of clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces throughout Israel, the West Bank and Gaza Strip that have left more than 50 people dead.

"I knew I could be martyred and I was prepared for that," he said. "Before me, five other kids tried to climb the 15-metre-high fence surrounding the lookout post, but they were all shot and wounded.

"When my turn came, the soldiers shot in the air at first, but I was not deterred. I continued climbing, carrying the Palestinian flag on my back. Although I was wounded in the leg, I tore down the Israeli flag and then quickly replaced it with the Palestinian flag. I jumped down and hid among some concrete barriers while the Israelis continued shooting. Then my friends came and rescued me."

His friends say they have appealed to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to give the youth an award.

Mr. Abu Dakka was one of the lucky ones. Hours later, the Israeli army used Apache helicopter gunships to fire missiles at Palestinian buildings and vehicles near the Netzarim base, killing two people and injuring about 50 more.

The helicopters were deployed for the first time Sunday in what Israeli army operations chief General Giora Eiland described as "a demonstration of the firepower at our disposal."

At least 10 people were killed yesterday, including three Israeli Arabs and one Israeli soldier, who was shot in the head at Beit Sahour near Bethlehem. Voice of Palestine Radio reported hundreds injured.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Mr. Arafat are to meet in Paris tomorrow with U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright in an effort to quell the violence.

Mr. Barak, who asked Israeli-Arab leaders last night to meet with him this morning for urgent talks, said all agreements and negotiations with the Palestinians on a long-awaited peace deal would be "shelved" until the current violence ended. "But it is too early to eulogize the peace process," he added.

Mr. Barak said Mr. Arafat was responsible for the violence and should order his officers to end their gun attacks on Israeli positions, but the Palestinian leader shrugged off the call.

"Stop shooting our soldiers, our old people, our youths, our women," Mr. Arafat said.

Yesterday, young Palestinian Fatah activists and police armed with automatic weapons joined stone-throwing demonstrators in clashes with Israeli troops in Ramallah, Bethlehem, Nablus, Jenin, Tulkarem and Hebron. Israeli cars were stoned and set ablaze at various points throughout the West Bank and an Israeli man was shot dead south of Nablus.