Following a spike in suspicious calls reported to the authorities, the Israel Police issued a warning to residents on Friday not to answer phone or video calls from numbers they don’t recognize, especially those from abroad.
According to a police statement, “the calls may be made with the intent to harass and create panic, or they may be part of attempts to take control of the WhatsApp accounts.” It said, “We advise against answering or receiving phone calls or video conversations from foreign numbers that you do not recognize.
Police advised people to block calls from ominous numbers. Since Hamas’s murder of 1,400 people in Israel on October 7—during which at least 233 hostages were transferred to Gaza—concerns about Palestinians accessing phones have increased.
The cell phones of the detainees are currently in the possession of Hamas, and it is feared that the Palestinian terror organization may use them to tamper with other digital communications.
Israelis rushed to delete the prisoners from their WhatsApp groups on social media. But the digital menace also poses a threat from the opposite side. According to media sources, Israel has gotten in touch with a variety of spyware providers about finding out where the captives’ phones are.
The Zachor Legal Institute reported on Thursday that many official Hamas propaganda channels have been blocked for Telegram users who download the software via the Apple Software Store, just days after Telegram did the same for Android users.
JNS independently confirmed on Thursday that the messaging app had prevented iPhone users from accessing at least four accounts related to Hamas.
A notice saying “Unfortunately, this channel couldn’t be displayed on your device” appeared when attempting to access the channels.