UNESCO puts city of Hebron on its heritage in danger list

1 / 2
(FILES) This file photo taken on September 02, 2009 shows a Palestinian man reading the Qur'an, Islam’s holy book, as he sits in front of his shop in the old city of Hebron, in the West Bank. From the modernist city of Asmara to the Palaeolithic caves in Germany, 34 sites around the world, sometimes sensitive, such as Hebron, hope to integrate the Unesco World Heritage List, whose Ad Hoc Committee meets from 2 to 12 July in Cracow (Poland). The old town of Hebron is in the list. (AFP)
2 / 2
(FILES) This file photo taken on May 08, 2017 shows a Palestinian man sitting in the old city of the West Bank city of Hebron. From the modernist city of Asmara to the Palaeolithic caves in Germany, 34 sites around the world, sometimes sensitive, such as Hebron, hope to integrate the Unesco World Heritage List, whose Ad Hoc Committee meets from 2 to 12 July in Cracow (Poland). The old town of Hebron is in the list. (AFP)
Updated 07 July 2017
0

UNESCO puts city of Hebron on its heritage in danger list

WARSAW: UNESCO on Friday declared the Old City of Hebron an endangered world heritage site, sparking outrage from Israel in a new spat at the international body.
Meeting in Poland, the UN’s cultural arm voted 12 to three — with six abstentions — to give heritage status to Hebron’s Old City in the occupied West Bank, which is home to more than 200,000 Palestinians and a few hundred Israeli settlers.
“Just inscribed on @UNESCO #WorldHeritage List & World Heritage in Danger List: Hebron/Al-Khalil Old Town,” the organization said on its official Twitter feed.
Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon immediately denounced the decision as “a moral blot,” saying it denied Jewish history in the city.
“This irrelevant organization promotes FAKE HISTORY. Shame on @UNESCO,” he wrote on Twitter after the decision taken in a secret ballot by the World Heritage Committee as it met in Krakow.
Brought by the Palestinians, the resolution declared Hebron’s Old City, including areas where settlers live, to be an area of outstanding universal value.
The resolution was fast-tracked on the basis that the site was under threat, with the Palestinians accusing Israel of an “alarming” number of violations, including vandalism and damage to properties.
The Palestinian foreign ministry called the decision made by UNESCO despite US and Israeli opposition a “success” for Palestinian diplomacy
Hebron claims to be one of the oldest cities in the world, dating from the Chalcolithic period or more than 3,000 years BC, the UNESCO resolution said.
At various times it has been conquered by Romans, Jews, Crusaders and Mamluks.
The city is home to the imposing Tomb of the Patriarchs, the resting place of key Biblical figures Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and one of the most important religious sites to Muslims and Jews alike.
Hebron is also a stark example of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The few hundred Israelis live closed off in several small settlements most of the world considers illegal, with Palestinians largely banned from entering and using nearby streets.
Israel seized the West Bank in the 1967 war in a move considered illegal by the United Nations.
The Israelis living in Hebron are protected by hundreds of Israeli soldiers, with Palestinians saying the settlements makes their lives impossible.


Cybersecurity firm: More Iran hacks as US sanctions loom

Alister Shepherd, the director of a subsidiary of FireEye, during a presentation about the APT33 in Dubai Tuesday. (AP)
Updated 53 min 22 sec ago
0

Cybersecurity firm: More Iran hacks as US sanctions loom

  • The firm warns that this raises the danger level ahead of America re-imposing crushing sanctions on Iran’s oil industry in early November.
  • Iran’s mission to the UN rejected FireEye’s report, calling it “categorically false.”

DUBAI: An Iranian government-aligned group of hackers launched a major campaign targeting Mideast energy firms and others ahead of US sanctions on Iran, a cybersecurity firm said Tuesday, warning further attacks remain possible as America reimposes others on Tehran.

While the firm FireEye says the so-called “spear-phishing” email campaign only involves hackers stealing information from infected computers, it involves a similar type of malware previously used to inject a program that destroyed tens of thousands of terminals in Saudi Arabia.

The firm warns that this raises the danger level ahead of America re-imposing crushing sanctions on Iran’s oil industry in early November.

“Whenever we see Iranian threat groups active in this region, particularly in line with geopolitical events, we have to be concerned they might either be engaged in or pre-positioning for a disruptive attack,” Alister Shepherd, a director for a FireEye subsidiary, told The Associated Press.

Iran’s mission to the UN rejected FireEye’s report, calling it “categorically false.”

“Iran’s cyber capabilities are purely defensive, and these claims made by private firms are a form of false advertising designed to attract clients,” the mission said in a statement. “They should not be taken at face value.”

FireEye, which often works with governments and large corporations, refers to the group of Iranian hackers as APT33, an acronym for “advanced persistent threat.” APT33 used phishing email attacks with fake job opportunities to gain access to the companies affected, faking domain names to make the messages look legitimate. Analysts described the emails as “spear-phishing” as they appear targeted in nature.

FireEye first discussed the group last year around the same time. This year, the company briefed journalists after offering presentations to potential government clients in Dubai at a luxury hotel and yacht club on the man-made, sea-horse-shaped Daria Island.

While acknowledging their sales pitch, FireEye warned of the danger such Iranian government-aligned hacking groups pose. Iran is believed to be behind the spread of Shamoon in 2012, which hit Saudi Arabian Oil Co. and Qatari natural gas producer RasGas. The virus deleted hard drives and then displayed a picture of a burning American flag on computer screens. Saudi Aramco ultimately shut down its network and destroyed over 30,000 computers.

A second version of Shamoon raced through Saudi government computers in late 2016, this time making the destroyed computers display a photograph of the body of 3-year-old Syrian boy Aylan Kurdi, who drowned fleeing his country’s civil war.

But Iran first found itself as a victim of a cyberattack. Iran developed its cyber capabilities in 2011 after the Stuxnet computer virus destroyed thousands of centrifuges involved in Iran’s contested nuclear program. Stuxnet is widely believed to be an American and Israeli creation.

APT33’s emails haven’t been destructive. However, from July 2 through July 29, FireEye saw “a by-factors-of-10 increase” in the number of emails the group sent targeting their clients, Shepherd said.