JERUSALEM, Israel -- Threats of a massive cyber-attack by the hacktivist group Anonymous to "wipe Israel off the Internet" failed to materialize on Sunday, the day it was set to begin.
"So far it is as was expected; there is hardly any real damage," National Cyber Bureau staffer Yitzhak Ben Yisrael said. "Anonymous doesn't have the skills to damage the country's vital infrastructure."
"If that were its intention, then it wouldn't have announced the attack ahead of time," he explained. "It [Anonymous] wants to create noise in the media about issues that are close to its heart."
The group says it's protesting Israel's "barbaric, brutal and despicable treatment of the Palestinian people."
The #OpIsrael cyber-attack threatened numbers of government websites, including the Prime Minister's Office, the Israel Defense Forces, the Israel Securities Authority, the Ministry of Education, and the Central Bureau of Statistics, among others.
"To the government of Israel: Welcome to the Hackintifada #FreePalestine," the group tweeted on its #OpIsrael page.
Ben-Gurion University Prof. Shlomi Dolev called the attempt "a good test for our defense systems," saying "we will know better how to deal with more serious threats in the future."
"This is a real battle," Dolev said. "It is good training for our experts."
An Israeli hacker going by the name EhIsR broke into #OpIsrael.com website. Under the header, "A few forgotten facts," he wrote, "Israel became a nation in 1312 BCE, 2,000 years before the rise of Islam," the Jerusalem Post reported on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Hamas spokesman Ihab al-Ghussein praised the hacktivist's efforts, evoking blessing on the "soldiers of the electronic battle."
"God [Allah] bless the minds and the efforts of the soldiers of the electronic battle," Ghussein wrote on his government Facebook page."