The Israeli Foreign Ministry recently detected several fake social media account holders posing as senior Israeli diplomats, including ambassadors and consuls posted in countries around the world.
The fake accounts mimic Israelis “stationed” in India, Finland, Romania, Ecuador, Albania and Uruguay. All of these countries enjoy close relations with Israel, which hackers could undermine.
The head of the Foreign Ministry’s Digital Diplomacy Bureau, David Saranga, told The Times of Israel that the forged accounts were virtually indistinguishable from the genuine diplomatic accounts.
“The pattern of the forgery was interesting: the fake accounts were completely identical to the content and activity that the ambassadors” post, Saranga said. “Some of them steal photos from Facebook and upload them on Twitter, or share content in parallel to the real activities of the ambassador in the country where they are stationed.”
Saranga, who recently served as the Jewish state’s ambassador to Romania, told the news outlet that the Foreign Ministry had proactively asked the social media firms to remove the fake accounts.
As the head of a ministerial division of 40 employees, Saranga is responsible for digital diplomacy, with a team that focuses on numerous languages on global social media platforms – Facebook, YouTube, TikTok and Twitter.
Israeli officials reportedly fear that the fake accounts were created as tools for hostile or subversive activities against Israel. Given the state’s uphill battle in the arena of public diplomacy, such fake accounts could seriously undermine the global reputation of Israeli diplomats and the State of Israel.
The discovery of the multiple fake accounts comes at a sensitive time in Israel’s burgeoning diplomatic relations with important countries, including Turkey.
Israel recently appointed seasoned diplomat Irit Lillian as ambassador to Turkey. She reportedly played a prominent role in the recent diplomatic reconciliation process between the two nations. She will become the first Israeli ambassador in Turkey since the mutual recalling of ambassadors in 2018 following lethal clashes between the Israel Defense Forces and Hamas-instigated rioters on the Israel-Gaza border over the opening of the American embassy in the Israeli capital.
Lillian, who previously served as the state’s ambassador to Australia and Bulgaria, stressed a pragmatic and realistic approach to the complex relations between Ankara and Jerusalem.
“From the beginning, it was clear that we were building a process in which we agree to disagree,” said Lillian with a reference to the numerous political disagreements between Turkey and Israel, including religious sites in Jerusalem and engagement with the Gaza-based terrorist organization Hamas.
“We are going into proper, positive bilateral relations that have a wide range of activities, but we know that there are points we don’t agree on. We know we are not going into a perfect marriage,” said Lillian.
While Israel has found itself disproportionately targeted and condemned in international forums for decades, such as the United Nations, Israel’s international standing has been strengthened considerably in recent years due to its continuation as a powerhouse for technological innovation and intelligence.
Israel and the European Union recently signed an intelligence-sharing agreement, which will deepen the already-strong Israeli-European intelligence ties and cooperation against international terrorism and crime.
“As crime and terrorism reach an unprecedented level worldwide, it was important to finalize the drawn-out negotiations to strengthen the cooperation between the agencies,” said Israel’s Public Security Minister Omer Barlev.
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.