Cyber-terror HQ Stalled by Spat Over Budget

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced the creation of HQ in May, but the Defense Ministry is refusing to transfer money to it, claiming the Finance Ministry has hinted that it won't be compensated for doing so.

Guy Grimland
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Guy Grimland

Israeli websites are under attack but the center for fighting cyber terror has no budget or employees because of a dispute between the defense and finance ministries.

In recent weeks hackers have been targeting prominent Israeli websites, paralyzing the homepages of large institutions - including the Stock Exchange - and exposing tens of thousands of credit card details.

Credit: AP

In theory, it would be the headquarters' job to counter such attacks.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced the creation of the headquarters in May. It was supposed to receive NIS 500 million from the Defense Ministry.

But the Defense Ministry is refusing to transfer the money, claiming the Finance Ministry has hinted that it won't be compensated for doing so.

Meanwhile, the headquarters' founder, Isaac Ben-Israel, is at odds with Netanyahu over the lack of budget and the proposed structure.

Ben-Israel reportedly does not want his institution to be just an advisory body like the National Security Council. Instead, he wants it to oversee all state institutions involved in anti-cyber terror, including the Israel Defense Forces' unit 8200, the relevant Shin Bet unit and the government's online services unit.

It's not clear whether all these entities would agree to having a new boss.

The original plan, announced in May, had included an academic research center alongside measures to protect the country from cyber attacks.

The headquarters' chief, Dr. Eviatar Matanya, has been in the job for two weeks but is reportedly already looking to leave due to the lack of budget, backing and authority.

The prime minister's communications staff stated that the unit is still new and like any new entity, it would take time to come together.

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