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Anonymous targets Israel in another cyberattack

The hacktivist collective claims to have caused more than $3 billion in damage in protest against treatment of Palestinians, but officials say the attack has caused minimal disruption.

Anonymous claims that a cyberattack launched against Israeli government Web sites this weekend has caused billions of dollars of damage, although Israeli officials say there have been no major disruptions.

The group claimed it hacked more than a dozen official Israeli Web sites, including those for the Israel Police, the Prime Minister's Office, the Israel Securities Authority, the Immigrant Absorption Ministry, and the Central Bureau of Statistics. The country's page for the Ministry of Defense was offline today as well, which Anonymous took credit for hacking in a tweet:

The group estimates that #OpIsrael has caused more than $3 billion in damage, hacking more than 100,000 Web sites, 40,000 Facebook accounts, and 30,000 bank accounts belonging to Israelis.

However, Yitzhak Ben Yisrael, of the government's National Cyber Bureau, said the campaign has caused minimal disruption to key government Web sites.

"So far it is as was expected, there is hardly any real damage," Ben Yisrael told the media. "Anonymous doesn't have the skills to damage the country's vital infrastructure. And if that was its intention, then it wouldn't have announced the attack ahead of time. It wants to create noise in the media about issues that are close to its heart."

This is the second time in recent months that Israel has been targeted by the hacktivist collective, which is protesting Israeli policy toward the Palestinians. A similar attack last November spawned millions of hack attempts, but the government said at the time that the disruption was minimal.

Members of the group warned last week that they would "disrupt and erase Israel from cyberspace" on April 7, saying the government had "crossed a line in the sand" when it threatened to sever all Internet and other telecommunications in and outside of Gaza. The attack coincided with Holocaust Remembrance Day, which began at sunset on Sunday and commemorates the 6 million Jewish victims of Nazi genocide during World War II.