Iran allegedly hacked into Israel’s water system and tried to increase the amount of chlorine and other chemicals in the water supply pumped into people’s home, according to the Financial Times which reported details on the April attack this week.
“If the bad guys had succeeded in their plot we would now be facing, in the middle of the corona crisis, very big damage to the civilian population and a lack of water and even worse than that,” said Yigal Unna, head of the National Cyber Directorate.
The attack on the water supply marks the first time innocent civilians rather than IT or data have been targeted in an apparent tit-for-tat series of cyber-attacks that has been going on between Israel and Iran.
“Cyber winter is coming and coming even faster than I suspected,” Unna said. “We are just seeing the beginning.”
Neither country has specifically blamed the other or admitted its own involvement, but intelligence agents say it is no secret what has been happening over the last few years.
“This is an attack that goes against all the codes of war. Even from the Iranians we didn’t expect something like this,” one official told Channel 13 news.
A Western intelligence official said hundreds of residents would have been at risk of getting sick from an infusion of chlorine and other chemicals. Thankfully the attack was thwarted, but “it was more sophisticated than they [Israel] initially thought,” the Western official said.
“It’s not fully clear why it didn’t succeed.”
Iran dismissed the allegations.
“Iran cannot politically afford to try to poison Israeli civilians,” an official said. “And even if Iran did so, where is the Israelis’ appropriate response?”
Israel launched an alleged reprise attack on May 9 at the Shahid Rajaee port, causing traffic there, “a knock on the door,” one Israeli official said. “Think of it [as] a gentle reminder. ‘We know where you live.’”