Hackers (illustration)
Hackers (illustration)AFP/File

Three anti-Israeli hackers successfully hijacked Google Palestine's homepage on Monday and posted messages calling for the removal of Israel from Google Maps and renaming it "Palestine".

By Tuesday, the Google Palestine domain (google.ps) was down and  featured a notice stating “account suspended.” 

Haaretz reported that the hackers managed to break into the domain name registry for Palestine, a database in which web addresses such as google.ps are converted to the unique IP addresses where the domain is located. 

The hackers switched the IP address to a different website showing what appeared to be a hacked version of Google’s homepage. On the page, the hackers wrote anti-Israel messages and protested against the use of the word “Israel” on Google Maps.

Google Palestine Hacked Homepage Screenshot

“Google Owned” were the words at the top of the defaced webpage.

Underneath, another  message appeared: “uncle google we say hi from palestine to remember you that the country in google map not called israel. its called Palestine .. # Question: what would happens if we changed the country title of Isreal [sic] to Palestine in google maps !!! it would be revolution So listen to rihanna and be cool :P.”

The statement was signed off by the hackers: Dod, Hij@ker, alzher, Mr_AnarShi-T and toxico-dz. They also provided a link to the website of Palestine Anger Network, www.hackteach.org.

But Google officials said their servers were not hacked. “Users on different domains around the world are redirected to their local Google domain if they enter “google.com,” so it may have appeared to some users in Palestine that google.com was affected. Google.com was not hacked,” said Ramy Kandil, public relations executive for Google.

“There was an issue with the DNS registry in Palestine, as a result, some users going to google.com.ps and a few other web addresses were redirected to a different website. This issue appears to be resolved,” he added.

Google was previously in the middle of an Israeli-Palestinian conflict, when earlier this year in May, the corporation changed the homepage tagline from “the Palestinian territories” to “Palestine.” This move drew an official protest from Israeli officials.

Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Ze'ev Elkin reportedly sent a letter to Google at the time, saying that recognizing the existence of a Palestinian state is a mistake and could negatively interrupt the efforts to bring negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.