IDF to Block Facebook, Gmail to Prevent 'Gifts for Hamas'

List of popular websites to be blocked on army bases, offices, to avoid inadvertent leaks of classified information.

The Israel Defense Forces plans to block several prominent websites, among them social networks Facebook and Twitter, as well as email sites like Gmail – a military intelligence official told Channel 2 on Tuesday.

soldier and Microsoft logo AP 2003
AP (Archive)

The head of the intelligence corps information security Gadi Abadi said that the sites would blocked on computers that have internet connections on army bases and offices where classified materials are kept.

However, these sites would be accessible from computers situated in the unit's break room.

Soldiers would still be able to access the blocked sites on their cellular phones.

Abadi explained that the block aims to maintain information security. "We give IDF soldiers a lot of credit," he said. "They are good soldiers who care deeply about security, but they are human. When a soldier is in his office at the unit, the risk of confusion and mistakes is higher. When you separate the work environment from the non-operations environment, the number of mistakes drops significantly."

Following the Second Lebanon War in 2006, the IDF established a special unit whose purpose was to prevent the leakage of classified information onto the internet via social networks. The unit scans a list of popular websites like Facebook, Twitter and MySpace looking for breaches of security.

Military Intelligence also disseminated a memo on the protocols of transfer of information online in efforts to raise awareness on the dangers of such inadvertent leaks.

"Who has been handing out gifts to Hamas?" the memo read. "Images from which classified information can be gleaned have been located online on a Hamas forum! These photos include IDF weapons, military exercises during Cast Lead, photos of senior officials, a photo of a drone and more. Most of these pictures were uploaded to social networks by IDF soldiers. Exposure of such classified information undermines the element of surprise and could lead to attacks on our forces."