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November 2, 2017 11:32 am

Turkish Hackers Loyal to President Erdogan Deface Israeli News Website in Balfour Declaration Protest

avatar by Ben Cohen

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The Times of Israel website after it was defaced by Turkish hackers protesting the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration. Photo: Screenshot.

In a gesture to protest the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration on Thursday, an experienced group of Turkish hackers took over the entire website of The Times of Israel news outlet, displaying pro-Palestinian slogans and quotes from the Quran alongside an image of Palestinian children waving a Turkish flag.

The hack took place early on Thursday morning. Staff at The Times of Israel said on the outlet’s social media feeds they were working to restore the site, having already removed the graphics left by the hackers.

The cyberattack was carried out by Akincilar (“Raiders”), a Turkish group that is fanatically loyal to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. A Twitter feed associated with the group boasted that Thursday’s hack had been a “shock” raid on “Israel.”

Akincilar has carried out at least two similar attacks on foreign websites this year — on both occasions, the targets were countries that had become embroiled in a direct row with Erdogan, who has significantly expanded his powers following a constitutional referendum in April that was marred by violence and voter intimidation.

In March, a furious diplomatic dispute between the Netherlands and Turkey over Erdogan’s insistence on holding campaign rallies for Turkish residents in Holland to win their support in the referendum resulted in an Akincilar attack on multiple Dutch websites, including the message “Your fear of Great Turkey shows your colonialist, racist and fascist crusade mentality and shows your true face.”

In June, Akincilar defaced the website of then-Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz — now the country’s chancellor — after he warned Erdogan not to “introduce splits into Austrian society.”

“Austria foreign minister! Who do you think you are kiddy!” the message from the hackers read. “You cannot decide how to talk to our prime minister! Erdogan the prime minister is the grandson of ancestors who reached Vienna, the soil you’re walking on now! We are Akıncilar, We are Ottomans, We are Turkey!”

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