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Israeli Cyber Czar Warns of More Attacks from Iran

By the Jerusalem Post
A cyber winter is coming and it will be faster than suspected, Israel's cyber czar warned, just a week after Iran tried hacking Israel's water system. In a recorded speech for Thursday's Cybertech conference event, National Cyber Directorate chief Yigal Unna provided striking new details about the Islamic Republic's hack and how Israel blocked it. Unna neither confirmed nor denied that Israel launched a counter cyberattack against Iran's Shahid Rajaee port on May 9, but, in unusually open remarks for a senior defense official, he strongly implied that Iran should be wary of attempting future attacks against Israeli civilian infrastructure. "We will remember this last month, May 2020, as a changing point in the history of modern cyberwarfare... What we faced here in Israel... the attempted attack, synchronized and organized attack," targeting civilian water infrastructure, "if it had been successful... we would now be facing in the middle of the corona crisis, a very big damage to the civilian population, a lack of water," Unna said. Further, he noted that when various chemicals are mixed with water in the wrong proportions – which could happen due to a hack – it "can be harmful and disastrous." While Unna tiptoed around the issue of attributing the attack to Iran at an official level, he noted Fox News's accusation against Iran and made it clear Israel was hacked by an enemy nation-state and not mere cyber criminals. "It is not a gang... they gain nothing from it, no ransomware... it was specifically and very directly aiming to cause damage in the real life in the real arena through controllers, through SCADA [Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition, a computer system for gathering and analyzing real time data] through ICS [Industrial Control Systems] controllers, something that could have caused a lot of damage," he explained. Elaborating, he said, "This is the first time we can see something like that aiming to cause damage to real life, not to IT [Information Technology], not to data, which is pretty serious by itself in the modern world…part of some attack over Israel, over the national security of Israel, not to gain any financial benefit." Next, he said, "I'm saying... because it wasn't one or two controllers. It was a... wide spectrum of attacks aiming specifically at energy and watering, and the only reason it failed was... our efforts, the INCD preparedness, the risk management that" the agency performs. However, Unna was not ready to just pat his unit on the back, saying, "If we will stand still, we will lose the next attack... we had some countermeasures, so the attack happened, but the damage was prevented and that's our goal and that's our mission." On the horizon, "we are now in the middle of preparing for the next phase to come because it will come eventually. Now... we managed to mitigate it and overcome it, but I'm afraid it's only the sign of the first major attack of a new era, of humanitarian targets." He mentioned a wide range of recent cyberattacks against medical centers and systems in the Czech Republic and other countries during the corona crisis, adding, "If we thought there were some rules of engagement or some lines that shouldn't be crossed... we'll all the laws are crossed. The cyber winter is coming and coming faster than even I suspected... we need to stand together against the next attacks... the level of attacks will probably get more sophisticated and deadlier." Continuing, he said, "The Washington Post attributed as a counterattack... against Iran that was blamed by Fox News as being behind the attack – attacking the port in Iran. Well... maybe and maybe not, but it seems like there are some new rules of engagement, rules of war in the cyber warfare." Unna stated, "It can be cyber against cyber... or kinetic counter to cyber... and everything will mix to a full scale of combat." He cautioned, "we need to reconsider what is really critical and what are really the main crown jewels of the cyber… space in each country... which needs to be taken full care of... and to manage the risk with all of the rest, which are less critical. Water can cause a cascade or domino effect... as well as transportation like a seaport on the other side," in another obvious reference to Iran.

Cameraman who Criticized PA Fired from the Associated Press

By the Jerusalem Post

Eyad Hamad, a veteran Palestinian cameraman, said on Wednesday that he was fired from the Associated Press after the Palestinian Authority filed a "complaint" against him. Hamad, 63, a resident of Bethlehem, told The Jerusalem Post that the complaint was filed against him because he had criticized the Palestinian security forces for arresting and beating a Palestinian journalist. Hamad and several Palestinian journalists expressed outrage over the AP decision. They said they were planning a series of protests against the international news agency in the coming days. The Palestinian Journalists Syndicate issued a statement in which it condemned the "arbitrary dismissal" of the cameraman. The syndicate called on AP to revoke its "unfair and unjust decision." "I have been working for AP for 20 years," Hamad said. "I covered many events in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and a number of Arab countries. The decision came as a surprise to me and my colleagues." Hamad said he believed the decision to fire him came after he and several Palestinian journalists launched a campaign to demand the release of Anas Hawwari, a Palestinian journalist recently arrested by the PA security forces. Because of the campaign, Hamad said, he received threats from PA security officials who told him that they would see to it that he gets fired from AP. Last week, Hamad and several Palestinian journalists demonstrated in Bethlehem to protest against the threats by the PA security officials. During the protest, Hamad held a sign reading: "President Mahmoud Abbas, I demand protection from the [Palestinian] security agencies." Several Palestinian journalists took to various social media platforms to express solidarity with Hamad. "Eyad Hamas is paying the price for defending Palestinian journalists against the repressive measures of the Palestinian Authority," wrote one journalist. A senior PA security official told the Post that he was unaware of any complaint lodged with AP against Hamad. Joe Federman, AP Bureau Chief for Israel and the Palestinian Territories, refused to comment on the issue. "We don't comment on personal matters," he told the Post.??

DNA Study Supports Bible: Canaanites Homogeneous Group, Lived in Israel

By the Jerusalem Post

Where did the Canaanites come from? A newly published study has shed light on the genomic features of the ancient population of Southern Levant - an area that covers modern Israel and the surrounding region - confirming that the biblical people were indeed a clear and homogeneous group and supporting the archaeological findings. Moreover, the research showed that many present-day populations of the area have ancestries from groups whose ancient proxy can be related to the Middle East. The beginning of the book of Genesis narrates that God ordered the patriarch Abraham (back then Abram) to leave his native land of Haram and embark on a journey to "a land that I will show you. "When they arrived in the land of Canaan, Abram passed through the land as far as the site of Shechem, at the terebinth of Moreh. The Canaanites were then in the land," read verses five and six in chapter 12 (translation by Sefaria.org). Archaeologists indeed concur that around the 2nd millennium BCE, or Middle/Late Bronze Age – when according to some interpretations Abraham lived - the Canaanites had a major presence in what later became known as the Land of Israel. "The Bronze Age was a very formative period in the history of Southern Levant, so we were curious to look into them," Liran Carmel, a professor at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem and one of the lead authors of the paper published on Thursday on the academic journal Cell, told The Jerusalem Post, explaining why the group of researchers chose to focus on this specific population. "Six or seven years ago, the new field of what we can call `molecular history,' emerged, with the idea of using ancient DNA to reveal patterns in more recent human history, the last few thousands of years," he said. "At the beginning, the research focused on events that happened in Europe and western Eurasia. I thought that I really wanted to bring it here, to study demographic events and populations in this region." The study analyzed individuals who lived over the course of a significant period of time, over 1,500 years. Carmel said that they started to conceive this project five years ago, but collecting the samples was a long process. The group of researchers managed to extract the DNA of 73 individuals whose remains were found in five archaeological sites in the region, including the prominent Tel Megiddo. Located in northern Israel, Tel Megiddo was once home to one of the most important Canaanite cities and the excavations have uncovered the remains of a palace, a town gate and a sophisticated water system, among other items. "We were afraid that it would be very difficult to obtain the DNA, because the climate in Israel is not very hospitable for its preservation, but when we started the project, it was discovered that there is a certain bone in the skull, the petrous bone, which is more likely to provide DNA samples. We decided to focus on that," he said. "With this technique we had a success rate of about 50%, which is good." In addition to the new DNA samples, the group also employed previously reported data from 20 other specimens from four sites, for a total of 93 specimens. Even though Canaanites lived in different city-states, archaeological evidence has always suggested that they presented a common material culture. And indeed, as the paper explained, this homogeneity was found mirrored also in their genetic ancestry. The general findings of the research suggest that among the Canaanites' ancestors were earlier local Neolithic populations, but also populations related to Chalcolithic Iran - and specifically the region of the Zagros Mountains - and/or the Bronze Age Caucasus. Carmel pointed out that among the more unexpected findings were the genetic profiles of three individuals that at first seemed to have nothing to do with their fellow Canaanites. A more in depth-analysis exposed that they were likely descendants of relatively recent immigrants from the Caucasus. Finally, the researchers compared the results of their study to the DNA ancestry of 14 present-day populations that bear a historical or geographical connection to the Southern Levant. As explained in the paper, both Arabic-speaking and Jewish populations were found compatible with having more than 50% Middle-Eastern-related ancestry. "In our work we analyzed the genetic makeup of the people who lived here millennia ago," the professor explains. "At the same time, we also knew the genetic makeup of those who are living in the region today. We were interested in exploring whether we could see any major genetic event or if nothing had happened. We found that many present-day populations show a large ancestry component of the combined Zagros-Canaanite element, as well as additional components related to later demographic developments." Carmel said that they are now looking into conducting similar studies on other population groups that emerged a little later in the region. "There were all these kingdoms that were established in the area in the Iron Age: Israel, Judah, Moab, Amon, Edom… We would like to consider them, but it is a big challenge to find samples, so this is what we are working on now," he concluded.

17-Year-Old Girl, Dog, Wild Boar get into Fight in Haifa

By Reuters

A teenage girl came into conflict with a wild boar on Tuesday while walking her dog in her neighborhood in Haifa, according to a Channel 12 report. While Israel is known for the many stray cats roaming the streets, the wild boars that roam the streets of Haifa are less known. While the pigs are often shy, and roam at night, occasionally they're seen during the day interfering with human activities. The girl was walking her dog Skip when they came across a wild boar, which promptly got into a fight with the dog. "Skip got into a fight with a wild boar," the girl told her father over the phone. The girl's parents quickly arrived on scene. "It was really scary," Mierav Sela, the mother of the girl, told Channel 12. "The wild boar escaped to the garden nearby. At this point we had already arrived and heard someone sound a whistle to drive away the boar, which the Haifa Municipality has recommended. And then what happened is that the pig ran away, and then ran back in our direction again," she said. "The situation got intense, because the dog began again to bark and go crazy." Nearly everyday dozens of videos are shared documenting wild boars. In one neighborhood a boar was seen breaking into a food bag hanging off a baby stroller. In another situation a wild boar family had invaded someone's gardens. Wild boars prefer the wild over urban areas, but sightings of them in Haifa have become more common recently, as there is plenty of food to be found on the streets, either in trash cans or the food people leave out for stray cats. The Haifa Municipality claims to have taken action, but boar sightings have become more frequent, especially since the coronavirus outbreak, as people tend to stay indoors more, leaving streets empty for the boars to roam. Last year, the municipality suspended culls of the boars, whose urban incursions, some experts say, are a response to human expansion into their natural habitat – the surrounding Carmel forest range, of biblical fame.

There's Going to be a New `Fiddler on the Roof' Movie

By JTA
Wonder of wonders: "Fiddler on the Roof" is returning to the big screen. MGM will produce a remake of the iconic 1964 musical about the struggles and joys of Jewish life in the fictional Eastern European shtetl of Anatevka, according to Deadline. The new film will bring some star power from Broadway: Director Thomas Kail served in the same role for "Hamilton" and has collaborated with its creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda (famously a "Fiddler" fan), on other shows. Steven Levenson, who wrote the acclaimed musical "Dear Evan Hansen," will pen the screenplay. The remake will be carrying on a tradition of more than 50 years. "Fiddler" first had audiences saying "L'chaim" when it opened on Broadway in 1964 starring Zero Mostel as Tevye and winning nine Tonys. It saw many sunrises and sunsets, at one time holding the record for longest-running Broadway musical at nearly 10 years. The movie version came out in 1971 and garnered three Oscars, as well as nominations for best actor for Topol and best picture. Broadway brought back another revival in 2015, and a Yiddish-language "Fiddler" ran off-Broadway until this year.

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