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Israel’s Unit 8200 Hackers Investigated For Computer Theft – OpEd

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Ynet reports that two of the most élite cyber war units in the IDF came under suspicion several weeks ago.  “Tens” of officers and non-commissioned officers in Unit 8200 (IDF’s SIGINT unit) and AMAN’s Unit 81 (military intelligence’s technology unit) are accused of using their hacking skills to derive “economic benefits” for themselves.  The article notes that the hacking of the offenders came at the expense of their fellow soldiers in the Units (see below).

Those investigated have such high security classifications that the IDF military police needed to get special permission to examine their computers.

Because of a security gag order, Ynet could not report the identities of the specific military units involved.  But a confidential and knowledgeable Israeli source informs me that they are Units 8200 and 81.  Nor did the story explain what crimes they’re alleged to have committed.  Based on the term “economic benefit” I assumed it involved conventional computer hacking into commercial or financial sites like banks or stores.

The term hatavah kalkalit can also mean “bonus.”  My source has heard a separate speculation more along those lines: that those charged falsified their own personnel data to make themselves eligible for raises or promotions.  Either offense would be extremely serious.  But falsifying personnel records is much more serious internally to the IDF since it violates army regulations.  There is an ethic within the army, false though it may be, that everyone is treated fairly and equally.  For there to be widespread fraud within one of the IDF’s most élite units is scandalous beyond belief.

There continues to be a quaint notion that the IDF is egalitarian.  That rewards are meted out according to skill and ability.  That only the best are rewarded.  Anyone reading this blog knows that the IDF is rife with corruption and dysfunction.  That not only are many of its strategic decisions suspect, but its day-to-day operations are riddled with nepotism, cronyism and self-dealing.  A nation that itself is corrupt should expect the same from its army.

I’ve already reported here the secret identity of Unit 8200’s commander.  He’s Brig. Gen. Ehud Schneerson, a distant relative of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.  I can’t imagine the rebbe would be entirely happy knowing the “army of the Jewish people” was violating one of the Ten Commandments.

This article was published at Tikun Olam.

Richard Silverstein

Richard Silverstein

Richard Silverstein is an author, journalist and blogger, with articles appearing in Haaretz, the Jewish Forward, Los Angeles Times, the Guardian’s Comment Is Free, Al Jazeera English, and Alternet. His work has also been in the Seattle Times, American Conservative Magazine, Beliefnet and Tikkun Magazine, where he is on the advisory board. Check out Silverstein's blog at Tikun Olam, one of the earliest liberal Jewish blogs, which he has maintained since February, 2003.

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