The Hamas terror group on Sunday called for an escalation of Internet hacking against Israel and saluted Arab programmers who have managed to infiltrate Israeli computer systems in recent weeks, Bloomberg reported.

“Penetrating Israeli websites means opening a new field of resistance and the beginning of an electronic war against Israeli occupation,” Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri was quoted by Bloomberg as having said in a statement e-mailed to reporters in Gaza.

In the past several weeks, Israelis have been targets of several hacking operations. It began when a Saudi-based hacker published the credit card details of thousands of Israelis.

The same hacker later called on Arab hackers to unite against Israel, and focus their efforts on the websites of the Israeli military and security agencies. He also encouraged hackers to break into various Israeli websites and steal credit card numbers. “We will fight you and hurt you in any way possible,” he was quoted as having warned Israelis.

Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon’s site was also breached by hackers, who didn’t manage to do much more than put a 30-minute dent in the site's defenses. Ayalon’s site was back up and running normally within half an hour.

Late last week, hackers broke into the Israel Fire and Rescue Services website and put up anti-Israel text and images. This time, the hackers claimed to be based in Gaza, which Hamas has been controlling since 2007. The hackers identified themselves as the Gaza Hacker Team.

The Israeli Defense Ministry has announced that it will establish a special cyber warfare administration to deal with the new threats. Deputy Foreign Minister Ayalon recently warned that Israel will retaliate against hacker attacks in the same way as it would against any terrorist attack.

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