Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Gaza Strip gas project poised for approval

A long-mooted $1bn project to develop natural gasfields off the Gaza Strip has won Israeli support in principle and is on track to be given the green light, Palestinian and Israeli government officials said. Benjamin Netanyahu’s government is “very supportive” of the project, which would see the fields exploited on behalf of the Palestinian Authority by investors led by BG Group, an Israeli government official involved in the deal told the Financial Times.

The fields, which contain about 1tn cubic feet of natural gas – about a third of the UK’s annual consumption of the fuel – would take three to four years to develop, meaning they could be producing gas by 2017. Capital investment in the project would total about $1bn, and it would bring in $6bn to $7bn of revenues a year, some of which would go back into the squeezed Palestinian budget in the form of royalties and taxes and help to defray Ramallah’s chronic fiscal and trade deficits.

A senior Palestinian official said that because of positive signals from Israel’s government, the PA was now negotiating a revised concession agreement with the other investors, BG and Consolidated Contractors Company – an Athens-based, Palestinian-owned construction and engineering group – which he hoped would be finalised “in the coming few days”.

“We have been preparing ourselves, given the positive signals we received from the Israeli side, that they would be willing to make the implementation of this project possible,” said the Palestinian official, who asked not to be named as the deal is not final yet. “We have taken steps to prepare for this, including having serious discussion with BG about the terms of the licence.”

The next step would be to secure the Israeli permits, which could take “a few weeks”, the Palestinian official said. more (subscription)

WhatsApp, AVG and Avira attacked by pro-Palestinian Anonymous hackers

Pro-Palestinian hackers managed to conduct DNS redirection attacks on the websites of popular mobile messaging service WhatsApp, as well as security companies AVG and Avira.

The Anonymous-affiliated hacking group, calling itself KDMS, claimed responsibility for the attacks on Twitter, delivering pro-Palestinian defacement messages ending in the words "long live Palestine."

All three websites seem to be the victim of an attack on Network Solutions, a domain name registrar and website hosting company. It is unclear whether emails from WhatsApp could have been intercepted.

"It appears that our account used to manage the DNS records registered at Network Solutions has received a fake password-reset request not being initiated by anyone at Avira. Network Solutions appears to have honoured this request and allowed a third party to assume control of our DNS," said Sorin Mustaca of Avira in a statement.

DNS records provide a routing lookup for the internet: they tell computers where to find servers or other computers. Changing the DNS record can misdirect all the traffic that relies on it; and because changes in DNS records propagate around the internet between the servers, their effects can last for days even after the original change has been undone.

The KDMS group also claimed responsibility for an attack on Leaseweb, a hosting company with around 4% of the global internet traffic under its management, and successfully effected a DNS redirect for its homepage. more

Rocket fired from Gaza lands in south Israel

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- A rocket fired from the Gaza Strip landed in southern Israel overnight Tuesday, Israel's army said.

The rocket fell close to the "security fence in the Eshkol regional council," an Israeli army spokeswoman said. more