Internet traffic patterns in Israel and Palestine following the October 2023 attacks

On Saturday, October 7, 2023, attacks from the Palestinian group Hamas launched from the Gaza Strip against the south of Israel started a new conflict in the region. Israel officially declared that it is at war the next day. Cloudflare’s data shows that Internet traffic was impacted in different ways, both in Israel and Palestine, with two networks (autonomous systems) in the Gaza Strip going offline a few hours after the attacks. Subsequently, on October 9, two additional networks also experienced outages. We also saw an uptick in cyberattacks targeting Israel, including a 1.26 billion HTTP requests DDoS attack, and Palestine.

Starting with general Internet traffic trends, there was a clear increase in Internet traffic right after the attacks reportedly began (03:30 UTC, 06:30 local time). Traffic spiked at around 03:35 UTC (06:35 local time) in both Israel (~170% growth compared with the previous week) and Palestine (100% growth).

That growth is consistent with other situations, where we’ve seen surges in Internet traffic when countrywide events occur and people are going online to check for news, updates, and more information on what is happening, with social media and messaging also playing a role. However, in Palestine, that traffic growth was followed by a clear drop in traffic around 08:00 UTC (11:00 local time).

The Palestine uptick in traffic after the Hamas attacks started is more visible when only looking at HTTP requests. Requests in Palestine dropped on Saturday and Sunday, October 7 and 8, as much as 20% and 25%, respectively.

Palestine’s outages and Internet impact

What drove the drop in Internet traffic in Palestine? Our data shows that two Gaza Strip related networks (autonomous systems or ASNs) were offline on that October 7 morning. Fusion (AS42314) was offline from 08:00 UTC, but saw some recovery after 17:00 UTC the next day; this only lasted for a few hours, given that it went back offline after 12:00 UTC this Monday, October 9.

It was the same scenario for DCC North (AS203905), but it went offline after 10:00 UTC and with no recovery of traffic observed as of Monday, October 9. These Internet disruptions may be related to power outages in the Gaza Strip.

During the day on October 7, other Palestinian networks saw less traffic than usual. JETNET (AS199046) had around half of the usual traffic after 08:00 UTC, similar to SpeedClick (AS57704), which had around 60% less traffic. After 14:15 on October 9, traffic to those networks dropped sharply (a 95% decrease compared with the previous week), showing only residual traffic.

When looking more closely at the Gaza Strip specifically, we can see that some districts or governorates had a drop in HTTP requests a few hours after the first Hamas attacks. The Gaza Governorate was impacted, with traffic dropping on October 7, 2023, after 09:15 UTC. On October 9, at 18:00 UTC, traffic was 46% lower than in the previous week. (Note: there were spikes in traffic during Friday, October 6, several hours before the attacks, but it is unclear what caused those spikes.)

The Deir al-Balah Governorate (on October 9, at 18:00 UTC, traffic was 46% lower than in the previous week) and the Khan Yunis Governorate (50% lower) also both experienced similar drops in traffic:

In the Rafah Governorate traffic dropped after 19:00 UTC on October 8 (and on October 9, at 18:00 UTC, traffic was 65% lower than in the previous week).

Other Palestinian governorates in the West Bank did not experience the same impact to Internet traffic.

Spikes in Internet traffic in Israel

In Israel, Internet traffic surged to ~170% as compared to the previous week right after the Hamas attacks on October 7 at around 03:35 UTC (06:35 local time), and again at around 16:00 UTC (19:00 local time), with ~80% growth compared to the previous week. In both cases, the increase was driven by mobile device traffic.

There was also increased traffic, as compared with usual levels, on Sunday, October 8, with notable spikes at around 06:00 (09:00 local time) and 12:00 UTC (15:00 local time), seen in the HTTP requests traffic graph below.

Mobile device traffic drove the Saturday, October 7 spikes in traffic, with the daily mobile device usage percentage reaching its highest in the past two months, reaching 56%.

Looking at specific Israel districts, traffic looks similar to the nationwide perspective.

Cyber attacks targeting Israel

Cyber attacks are frequent, recurrent, and are not necessarily dependent on actual wars on the ground, as our 2023 attacks landscape clearly showed. However, it is not unusual to see cyberattacks launched in tandem with ground assaults. We saw that in Ukraine, an uptick in cyber attacks started just before war began there on February 24, 2022, and were even more constant, and spread to other countries after that day.

In Israel, we saw a clear uptick in cyber attacks earlier this year, with another wave of notable attacks on October 7 and October 8, 2023, after the Hamas attacks. The largest ones were DDoS attacks targeting Israeli newspapers. One attack on October 8, reached 1.26 billion daily requests blocked by Cloudflare as DDoS attacks, and the other reached 346 million daily requests on October 7, and 332 million daily requests the following day.

Looking at these DDoS attacks in terms of requests per second, one of the impacted sites experienced a peak of 1.1 million requests per second on October 8 at 02:00 UTC, and the other Israeli newspaper saw a peak of 745k requests per second at around 06:00 the same day.

In Palestine, we also saw application layer DDoS attacks, but not as big. The main one in the past three months was on October 7, 2023, targeting a Palestine online newspaper, reaching 105 million daily requests.

Looking at these most notable DDoS attacks targeting Palestine in terms of requests per second (rps), the most impacted site (a Palestinian newspaper) experienced a peak of 214k requests per second at around 17:20 UTC on October 7.

Follow Cloudflare Radar for up to date information

We will continue to monitor trends related to this conflict. You can use Cloudflare Radar to check for up to date Internet traffic patterns, including those related to Israel and Palestine. Follow Cloudflare Radar on social media at @CloudflareRadar (Twitter/X), cloudflare.social/@radar (Mastodon), and radar.cloudflare.com (Bluesky).

Source:: CloudFlare