Hamas, or possibly other anti-Israel hackers on Wednesday tried to leverage the news media to sow alarm and confusion among Israelis, on the second day of Operation Protective Edge to end incessant rocket fire from Gaza.
In a bid to plant false reports in the media, numerous reporters, bloggers and related individuals received Tweets and SMS (text) message alerts alleging that a refinery located in Israel’s chief port was hit by a rocket fired out of Gaza.
“Israeli daily Haaretz reports that a Rocket from Gaza hit a petrochemical plant in Haifa, there is a huge fire and possible chemical leak. People are advised to evacuate Haifa,” the pseudo alert read.
This reporter, among many others in the Israeli media, was among those who received the disinformation – and was doubtful.
Glaring grammar mistakes and the lack of any other source for the supposed “breaking news” alert were a dead giveaway.
Well, that, and the fact that I don’t even have an entry called “HAARETZ” in my contacts. (Sorry Haaretz…)
Meanwhile, however, Palestinian terrorists either from Hamas or Islamic Jihad fired several long-range rockets northwards, hitting open coastal areas some 10 kilometers south of the country’s third-largest city.
Haifa is 160 kilometers from Gaza.
There were no reports of injury, although fire crews doused a small brush fire in the Binyamina area started by the fallen rocket.
However, in light of the increased rocket range and out of prudence, Haifa Mayor Yona Yahav and Home Front Command officials have urged residents refresh procedures in case of rocket attack, and to prepare and open public shelters.
The city has opened its new emergency operations center, opened in 2013, in the wake of the 2006 conflict with Hizbullah.
The city sustained scores of rocket strikes from Hizbullah in the 2006 conflict with the Lebanon-based, Iran-backed terror group.
“Please do not change your daily habits, maintain vigilance and do not panic,” Yahav said, in a statement on the city’s website.
“However, the experience we gained the Second Lebanon War shows that the municipality is the body for residents to turn to during emergencies, and accordingly we must prepare.
“To meet challenges that we may face, we established a new operations room among other things, to allow security forces to operate in extreme conditions,” Yahav wrote.