Hackers interrupted broadcasting on an Israeli television channel on Tuesday night to stream an Islamic call to prayer, amid anger over official moves to silence mosques in Israel and occupied East Jerusalem.
Israel’s privately owned Channel 2 was interrupted for around 30 seconds, with images of Muslim holy sites broadcast instead of normal content.
Channel 10 was also disrupted, with messages suggesting that a recent spate of forest fires that devastated much of Israel were “divine retribution” for a bill that would see the call to prayer banned.
“This is a hostile takeover of the satellite carrying the broadcast,” the Israeli broadcasting authority said of the hacking in a statement.
“We view this with the utmost severity and consider it an act of sabotage.”
The Hebrew text broadcast on the screen read: “God is great / This is punishment from God / The fire burned hearts / Stopping the call to prayer is a war on God.”
Palestinians have been widely blamed for starting many of the fires, with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu saying they were the result of “terrorist arson”.
However, police on Wednesday said it has not yet been determined which, if any, of the fires were started deliberately.
Hundreds of homes were destroyed, and tens of thousands of people in the northern West Bank were forced to evacuate their homes.
In the wake of the fires, education minister Naftali Bennett pledged to provide “more and bigger” housing in settlements considered illegal under international law, after many were damaged by fire.
Some Palestinian commentators remarked that the fires, dubbed by the Israeli media as the “arson intifada” were “divine retribution” for plans to silence the call to prayer.
The controversial bill, which is backed by Netanyahu but has been criticised by president Reuven Rivlin, is due to get its preliminary reading in the Israeli parliament on Wednesday.