The video then cuts to an interview with an Israeli soldier with his face blacked out, who describes a Facebook message he recently received from someone he believed was a young Israeli woman.
“She sent me a message on Facebook. We spoke a lot over a few days. She said she was a prison guard, and I told her I was in the army,” he said. “Then she asked me to download this chat app so that we could talk more. I downloaded it, but it did not work. I tried to reach her again on Facebook, but she didn’t answer.”
The soldier then described how the app was actually a spy tactic from the Islamist Hamas movement in the Gaza Strip, which collects information about soldiers and their locations even when their phones are switched off.
The video, along with a new radio campaign telling soldiers to report any Facebook friend requests from someone they don’t know comes after the army said that Hamas infiltrated “dozens” of Facebook accounts of Israeli combat soldiers.
“The idea is to educate and make soldiers aware as a first line of defense to explain the threat of what Hamas is trying to do and how they’re using the soldiers,” IDF Captain Libby Weiss told The Media Line. “The idea is not to tell soldiers 'Don’t use social media,' but to teach them to be more savvy and aware of how terror organizations use social media to our detriment.”
Weiss said that the army does not believe the hacking caused significant damage as it was caught before it became widespread. She said one female soldier saw her profile picture being used in a fake account in Facebook, and alerted the army.
The fact that phones now have GPS makes them even more dangerous. Israeli media reported soldiers using their phones to order pizza, giving terrorist organizations Hamas and Hezbollah in southern Lebanon information on their locations.
Israeli analysts said that social media has the potential to cause significant intelligence damage, and that terror organizations see social media as a good way to get information, as it is almost impossible to wipe out completely.
“It is a Sisyphean war,” Yossi Kupperwasser, a former senior military intelligence officer told The Media Line. “You close a window and they come through the door. We must always be on alert to the next trick they are going to use.”
Social media has been used in the past, as well. In 2001, Palestinian gunmen killed 16-year-old Israeli Ofir Rahum after a Palestinian woman lured him to the area. A Palestinian woman, Mona Jaud Awana, spent weeks gaining Rahum’s confidence, by masquerading as a Jewish immigrant from Morocco named Sally.
The use of Facebook, WhatsApp and other applications is widespread throughout Israel. As most 18-year-old Jewish Israelis are drafted, it is almost impossible to stop their use entirely within a militarycontext.
“You are sending information to the enemy, without feeling it and without knowing it,” the Israeli soldier in the video warns. “At that moment, you are serving the enemy more than your own country.”
Article written by Linda Gradstein
Reprinted with permission from The Media Line .