Hackers targeted the website of an Israeli newspaper
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Hackers targeted the website of an Israeli newspaper on Monday, the anniversary of the assassination of a top Iranian general in 2020, and replaced the content with an image threatening a site linked to Israel’s undisclosed nuclear weapons program.
No group has immediately claimed responsibility for the hacking. The image posted on the Jerusalem Post’s website depicts a rocket falling from a fist with a ring long linked to Qassem Soleimani, the Iranian general killed by a US drone strike in Iraq two years ago .
Also on Monday, a Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen accused Iranian-backed Houthi rebels there of seizing an Emirati-flagged ship off the port of Hodeida in the Red Sea. The rebels did not immediately recognize the incident.
Also on Monday, a group under British surveillance said it had reports of a possible attack on a ship off the coast of Yemen in the Red Sea, a crucial route for international trade. Yemen remains embroiled in a years-long war that has put Iranian-backed rebels against a Saudi-led coalition.
The image placed in the hack depicts an exploding target of a recent Iranian military drill designed to resemble the Shimon Peres Negev Nuclear Research Center near the city of Dimona. The facility is already home to decades-old underground laboratories that are reprocessing the reactor’s pierced rods to obtain weapons-grade plutonium for Israel’s nuclear bomb program.
Under its policy of nuclear ambiguity, Israel neither confirms nor denies having nuclear weapons.
In a tweet, the Jerusalem Post acknowledged the purpose of being hackers.
“We are aware of the apparent hacking of our website, in addition to a direct threat to Israel,” the English-language newspaper wrote. “We are working to resolve the issue and thank readers for your patience and understanding.”
The newspaper later restored its website. It noted that Iran-backed hackers had previously targeted their website in 2020 “with an illustration of Tel Aviv burning as then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu swam” with a life protector.
There was no immediate response from the Israeli government. The hack comes after Israel’s former military intelligence chief publicly acknowledged in late December that his country was involved in Soleimani’s assassination.
Iran also did not immediately recognize the hack. However, in recent days the country has strengthened its reservations about the assassinated Revolutionary Guard general. On Monday, memorial services were scheduled to mark his death.
Meanwhile, the British military said Maritime Trade Operations in the United Kingdom had received reports of an attack on a ship, revealing its location off the coast of Yemen, near the disputed port city of Hodeida. The British Army has not worked out.
The coordinates it provided matched the Rwabee landing craft with the Emirati flag, which had not given its location for hours via satellite tracking data, according to the website MarineTraffic.com.
A coalition statement led by the coalition led by state television in the kingdom later acknowledged the attack, saying the Houthis had committed an act of “armed piracy” involving the ship. The coalition claimed that the ship was carrying medical equipment for a Saudi field hospital, without providing evidence.
An employee of the ship’s owners, Abu Dhabi-based Liwa Marine Services, told The Associated Press that Rwabee appeared to be the target, but said they had no other information and declined to comment further. The employee did not give up her name and hung up.
As the head of the Quds, or Jerusalem, Force of the Revolutionary Guard, Soleimani led all his expeditionary forces and often commuted between Iraq, Lebanon and Syria. Quds Force members pledged in Syria’s long war to support President Bashar Assad, as well as in Iraq during the 2003 US invasion that overthrew dictator Saddam Hussein, a longtime enemy of Tehran .
Soleimani gained prominence by advising troops fighting the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria on behalf of the fighting Assad.
U.S. officials say the guard under Soleimani has taught Iraqi militants how to produce and use especially deadly mountain bombs against U.S. troops following the invasion of Iraq. Iran has refused. Many Iranians to this day see Soleimani as a hero who fought Iran’s enemies abroad.
Associated Press writers Isabel DeBre in Dubai and Samy Magdy in Cairo contributed to this report.
Follow Jon Gambrell on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jongambrellAP.