Hacker Invokes Curse of Genesis 12:3
HACKER CLAIMS TO HAVE STOLEN PERSONAL DATA OF VAST MAJORITY OF ISRAELIS: A hacker using the name Sangkancil has claimed to have stolen the personal information of 7 million Israelis [invoking the curse of Genesis 12:3!].
The attacker said he stole the data from the CITY4U website, which is used by local authorities in Israel to process payments such as property taxes, fines, and utility bills. Israel’s current population is some 9.4 million. If the claims are valid, the hack would be one of the most severe breaches of privacy in Israel’s history. The National Cyber Directorate said it was investigating the hacker’s claims, but that the document leak was likely old information. The attacker first claimed to have hacked Israeli municipalities on Sunday, September 5, in a post on the Telegram messaging application. Starting Monday, September 6, he released images of documents he said backed up his claims, including Israeli identity cards, driver’s licenses, and tax bills. The documents were sent out on Telegram and online hacking forums. The attacker offered the data for sale without disclosing the asking price and hinted he may reveal more information in the coming days. “This is my first surprise for the Jewish new year. Enjoy!” the attacker wrote, referring to this week’s Rosh Hashanah holiday. Sang Kancil is the name of a series of fables popular in Indonesia and Malaysia. The alleged attack appears similar to a hack of Israel’s Shirbit Insurance company last year and comes amid a global uptick in ransomware attacks. In the Shirbit attack, a hacking group calling itself Black Shadow broke into the insurance firm, stealing client details and demanding a ransom or it would publish the data to the internet. The company refused to pay and the hackers later said they had sold the information on the dark web. (TOI / VFI News)
ISRAEL ACCELERATING IRAN STRIKE PLANS, ACTING THROUGHOUT MIDEAST: Israel has “greatly accelerated” preparations for action against Iran’s nuclear program, military chief Aviv Kohavi said in an interview published Monday, September 6.
Kohavi said that “a significant chunk of the boost to the defense budget, as was recently agreed, was intended for this purpose. It’s a very complicated job, with much more intelligence, much more operational capabilities, much more armaments. We’re working on all these things.” The head of the Israel Defense Forces said the military’s current main objective is “minimizing Iranian presence in the Middle East, with an emphasis on Syria…but these operations take place throughout the Middle East. They’re also against Hamas, against Hezbollah.” Kohavi said Israeli strikes and other operations had “greatly diminished Iran’s presence and weaponry in the northern arena, certainly in comparison to what they sought.” He said the army was “very active in disrupting the smuggling routes of Hezbollah, of Hamas, of Iran, in all regions.” The IDF “is operating at much greater depths, at 360 degrees throughout all the Middle East. It doesn’t wait for the threat to come. It prepares, it meets [the threat] head-on, neutralizes it, roots it out.” Defense Minister Benny Gantz also issued threats against Iran last month, telling foreign diplomats that Israel may have to take military action against Iran. “The State of Israel has the means to act and will not hesitate to do so. I do not rule out the possibility that Israel will have to take action in the future in order to prevent a nuclear Iran,” Gantz said. Though Iran is believed to be two months away from obtaining the fissile material needed for a bomb, the IDF has assessed that it would take at least several more months from then before Tehran would be capable of producing a deliverable weapon, needing that time to construct a core, perform tests and install the device inside a missile. (TOI / VFI News)
IRAN HAS QUADRUPLED ITS STOCKS OF 60% ENRICHED URANIUM SINCE MAY: Iran has dramatically increased its production of highly enriched uranium in recent months while refusing to resume full cooperation with inspectors, the United Nations nuclear watchdog said on Tuesday, September 7.
Tehran has quadrupled its stockpile of 60 percent-enriched uranium since May, in open contravention of the 2015 accord with world powers that were meant to contain its nuclear program, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported. The IAEA also told member states in its confidential quarterly report that its verification and monitoring activities have been “seriously undermined” since February by Iran’s refusal to let inspectors access IAEA monitoring equipment. The agency said that it estimates Iran’s stock of uranium enriched to up to 60% fissile purity at 10 kilograms, an increase of 7.6 kilograms since May. The country’s stockpile of uranium enriched to up to 20% fissile purity is now estimated at 84.3 kilograms, up from 62.8 kilograms three months earlier. Iran’s total stock of uranium is estimated at 2441.3 kilograms as of August 30, down from 3241 kilograms on May 22, the agency said. Tehran is only permitted to stockpile 202.8 kilograms of uranium under the nuclear deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, which promises Iran economic incentives in exchange for limits on its nuclear program, and is meant to prevent Tehran from developing a nuclear bomb. The Vienna-based agency warned members that its confidence in properly assessing Iran’s activities — what it called the “continuity of knowledge” — was declining over time and that would continue “unless the situation is immediately rectified by Iran”. (TOI / VFI News)
WASHINGTON, ISRAEL SET UP JOINT TEAM ON CONTAINING IRAN: In a dramatic move, Israel and the United States have established a joint task force to contain Iran, reports JTA (Jewish Telegraphic Agency). Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett revealed the information to U.S. Jewish leaders in a Rosh Hashanah call.
In his first meeting with the Israeli premier last week, US President Joe Biden sought to appease Israeli concerns by implying an openness to resorting to a military option to contain Iran. During the call Friday morning, September 3, with the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Bennett said that the joint team emerged from the talks he had with Biden as well as other senior officials. “The immediate follow-up was to form a joint team based on the joint objectives of rolling Iran back into their box and preventing Iran from ever being able to break out a nuclear weapon,” Bennett said. “We set up a joint team with our national security advisor and America’s, and we’re working very hard, and the cooperation is great.” Bennett also stressed the importance of rebuilding relations with Democrats following years of tension under Netanyahu’s leadership. “We got such a warm reception,” he said of his interaction with Biden. The leaders will disagree in some areas, he said, but “the good spirit means we’re going to be mensches with each other.” Biden echoed similar sentiments in a Rosh Hashanah call on Thursday with rabbis, calling Bennett a “gentleman.” Bennett said that he presented to Biden a strategy to confront the Islamic Republic by creating a regional alliance to prevent Iran from going nuclear and to quash its influence in the region, which Israel and Sunni Arab states see as dangerous. (I365 / VFI News)
TALIBAN WILLING TO ESTABLISH RELATIONS WITH ALL NATIONS EXCEPT ISRAEL: The Taliban are willing to establish ties with all countries except for Israel, a spokesman said Tuesday, September 7, as the extremist group announced its new government after taking control of Afghanistan.
Spokesman Suhail Shaheen told Russia’s Sputnik News that The Taliban were willing to work with the US after they swiftly toppled the 20-year-old Western-backed government last month just as President Joe Biden was completing a pullout to end America’s longest war. “Yes, of course, in a new chapter if America wants to have a relation with us, which could be in the interest of both countries and both peoples, and if they want to participate in the reconstruction of Afghanistan, they are welcome”, Shaheen said. However, there was no chance for ties with Israel. “Of course, we won’t have any relation with Israel. We want to have relations with other countries, Israel is not among these countries,” Shaheen said. (TOI/VFI News)
AUSSIE COPS SURROUND SYNAGOGUE, FINE ROSH HASHANAH WORSHIPERS IN LOCKDOWN BREACH: Australian police on Tuesday, September 7, issued fines to worshipers at a synagogue in Melbourne where a group of Orthodox Jews held Rosh Hashanah services in apparent violation of pandemic lockdown ordinances.
According to local reports, some 100 worshipers gathered inside the synagogue at around 5 a.m. and refused to leave until nightfall. Police surrounded the synagogue after receiving calls of a suspected mass gathering held in breach of COVID-19 restrictions. A police source told The Age newspaper that officers were not going to force their way into the synagogue and waited for worshipers to come out. Each attendee received a fine of $5,452 Australian dollars ($4,026 USD) upon leaving the synagogue, the report said. Victoria, the state where Melbourne is located, has strict stay-at-home orders in place, with residents barred from holding gatherings or leaving their homes each night during curfew, among other sweeping restrictions. “I understand this has been a very difficult year for lots of people that can’t go and do the things that they want to do,” Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said. “But if we don’t follow these rules, then we will all have to wait longer to do the things that we want to do. That’s why the rules apply to everybody.” He also noted Jewish leaders have previously condemned lockdown violations. The Jewish Community Council of Victoria put out a video last week urging local Jews to adhere to coronavirus restrictions and mark the Jewish new year at home. (TOI / VFI News)
ISRAEL CELEBRATES TROVE OF 9 PARALYMPIC MEDALS AS TOKYO GAMES COME TO A CLOSE: As the Tokyo Paralympics draw to a close, Israel is bringing home an impressive 9 medals, 6 of them gold, triple its medal haul from the Rio Paralympics in 2016, and the most gold medals it’s won since the 1988 Games.
After 12 days of competitions, the Paralympics came to an end on Sunday, September 5, with a colorful, circus-like closing ceremony. But none of the Israeli delegation stuck around to take part in the ceremony, opting instead to return home before the start of Rosh Hashanah, which began Monday evening, September 6. Israel, which sent 33 athletes to compete across 11 sports, won 9 medals at the Games, its highest total since 2004 in Athens when it took home 13 medals. Six of Israel’s medals this year were gold, which is the highest figure since the 1988 Paralympic Games in Seoul. All but one of Israel’s Tokyo Paralympic medals came in swimming, where three Israeli swimmers — Mark Malyar, Ami Dadaon, and Iyad Shalabi — dominated the waters and the podium, each shattering world records along the way. The trio landed at Ben Gurion Airport on Sunday afternoon, where they were greeted by cheers, balloons, posters, and plenty of singing and dancing. (TOI/ VFI News)
ISRAEL’S POPULATION RISES TO 9.3 MILLION ON ROSH HASHANAH EVE: On the eve of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year, the Central Bureau of Statistics reported Sunday that Israel’s population topped 9.3 million this year, growing by 146,000 people from the year before in a rise of 1.6 percent.
There are now 9,391,000 people living in the Jewish state, according to the CBS figures published ahead of Rosh Hashanah, which began Monday evening, September 6. The number is expected to pass 10 million by the end of 2024. The population comprises more than 6.94 million Jews, or 74%; over 1.98 million Arabs, who account for 21%; and another 466,000 people of other ethnic groups, 5% of the population. The figures show 172,000 babies were born and there were 48,000 deaths — including around 5,800 from the coronavirus — in the 11.5 (Gregorian calendar) months since Rosh Hashanah last year. Life expectancy is 80.7 years for Israeli men and 84.8 years for women, the CBS said. The ongoing coronavirus pandemic and the vast curbs on international travel have had a significant impact on immigration. 19,676 immigrants arrived in Israel during 2020, a dramatic 40.8% drop from 2019 when there were more than 33,000 new arrivals. The first half of 2021 appeared to show something of a recovery. Between January and July, 13,000 people immigrated, a 30% increase over the same period in 2020. The CBS numbers came as the Jewish Agency reported there were now 15.2 million Jews worldwide, an increase of 100,000 from the year before. (TOI / VFI News)
The suggestions, opinions and scripture references made by VFI writers and editors are based on the best information received.
Blessings from Jerusalem,
Barry Segal with the Editorial Staff