Palestinian Engineer Jailed for Hacking Israeli CCTVs & Drones

An Israeli court has sentenced Majid Oweida, a 23-year old from Gaza City to 9 years in prison on charges of hacking into Israeli drones. According to the prosecutors, the Palestinian computer engineer was spying on Israel for a terror group.

Oweida was detained in February 2016 while he was indicted on charges of having a membership of an illegal organization, keeping contact with enemy agents, spying, and conspiracy at a Beersheba District Court. The court found him guilty on Monday, and he was sentenced on Thursday.

According to Israel’s Justice Ministry, Oweida pleaded guilty to numerous offenses against the “state security” including supporting a “forbidden organization” and participating in its activities. Oweida joined Islamic Jihad in 2011 and agreed on developing software that could help the organization in monitoring traffic cameras installed in Israel so that Islamic Jihad could carry out attacks.

Court transcript stated that the accused admitted to having consented for the development of software that could help in hacking into and monitoring Israeli drones that would broadcast pictures from the “skies of Gaza.” While attempting to do so, Oweida entered a conspiracy for transferring information to an enemy of Israel who would try to harm Israel’s state security.

As per the transcript, Oweida possessed a laptop, a signal decoder and a satellite dish, which could receive data from the Amos private communications satellite of Israel. The initial two attempts were unsuccessful, but on the third attempt, he managed to hack into the drone transmissions in full HD quality and in real-time. In the pictures, Oweida received intelligence information about “terror operatives active in firing and storing rockets in Gaza.”

Oweida used to recruit contestants for the Palestinians Got Talent TV show. He was associated with Islamic Jihad for five years, and in this time he wrote hacking codes to help the organization spy upon Israel’s transportation authority’s video cameras and identify locations of IDF personnel and civilians in real time. He also managed to infiltrate the security of Tel Aviv’s Ben-Gurion Airport to monitor the movement of airplanes as well as keep a check on passenger lists.

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