The local domain for Google Palestine, google.ps, was hacked this afternoon by Palestinian supporters. The defaced webpage showed a message reminding Google "that the country in Google Maps is not called Israel."
As of now, if you search for "Palestine" in Google Maps it will show the area of Jerusalem and the Gaza strip labeled Israel. The hackers' message said that if Google changed the name of the territory from Israel to Palestine on the map, "it would be revolution."
Screenshot of defaced google.ps
Google has a local domain for most countries around the world, including Palestine. A few months ago, the company got itself tangled up in international politics when it changed the tagline of the google.ps homepage from Google: Palestinian Territories to Google: Palestine.
The small change had huge implications. Palestinians interpreted the move as a symbolic gesture of recognition of the state. An advisor to Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas said Google had "put Palestine on the internet map, making it a geographical reality." A Palestinian citizen, speaking to NPR, said the name change represented the difference between Palestine under occupation, and without occupation.
Israeli officials on the other hand called the move "very, very problematic." The Israeli deputy foreign minister even sent a letter to Larry Page saying the change could hurt peace negotiations in the Middle East.
Google said it was simply following the lead of the United Nations, which had recently awarded Palestine non-member observer state status. "We're changing the name 'Palestinian Territories' to 'Palestine' across our products. We consult a number of sources and authorities when naming countries. In this case, we are following the lead of the UN ... and other international organizations," a Google spokesman told news outlets.
The Google Palestine hack from today is apparently a plea for the web giant to make another symbolic change—labeling Palestine on the map.
Screenshot via Google Maps
The Hacker News, which first noticed the breach, said the most likely scenario is that the hackers rerouted the domain server to the new page. The hackers signed the message as "Cold zero, Haml3t, Sas, and Dr@g," but their real identities are still unknown.