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Phone, Internet access in West Bank, Gaza cut

A cyber attack has crippled he main phone network in the West Bank and Gaza and cut access to the Internet.

Mashour Abou Daqqa, the Palestinian telecoms minister, said the disruptions, which began Tuesday morning, came from various sources around the world, but had no detailed information. He said hackers used IP servers in Germany, China, and Slovenia to launch the attack.

No individuals or groups have claimed responsibility but the hack may be linked to rising regional tensions over the Palestinian Authority's successful move to acquire membership in Unesco on Monday. It also comes against the backdrop of new cross-border clashes along the border between Israel and Gaza. One Israeli civilian and at least 10 Palestinian militants were killed in the worst violence on that front in months. The fighting followed the launch of rocket salvos against Israeli territory last week. Israel retaliated with airstrikes.

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Abou Daqqa suggested that Israel might be behind the attack. "Judging from the intensity of the attack, I think that a state is behind it and that it wasn't spontaneous," he said, adding that Israel "could be involved."

Over the years, pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian computer hackers have fought running skirmishes, carrying out attacks on the other side. So far, the attacks have been minor incidents, compared to the 2007 mass cyber-attack against Estonia, whose Internet infrastructure was crippled by a denial-of-service attack in the aftermath of that country's decision to remove a Russian World War II war memorial from its capital and largest city Tallinn.

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