Outsiders defaced the website of a prominent Israeli newspaper early Monday, posting a picture of an Israeli nuclear facility being destroyed by a missile along with a threat in both English and Hebrew.
Hackers targeted the home page of the The Jerusalem Post, among the biggest newspapers in Israel, early Monday morning Israeli time, the paper reported. Above the image of the exploding facility was the message: “We are close to you where you do not think about it.”
The defacement comes on the two-year anniversary of the U.S. government’s killing of Qassem Soleimani, the former commander of the the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, a branch of Iran’s armed forces. Israeli officials reportedly aided the U.S. operation, which targeted Soleimani with a drone strike shortly after he’d arrived in Baghdad.
We are aware of the apparent hacking of our website, alongside a direct threat of Israel. We are working to resolve the issue & thank readers for your patience and understanding. For now, you can continue reading us on our app: https://t.co/UrEXIpatDPhttps://t.co/veBDuWgucp
— The Jerusalem Post (@Jerusalem_Post) January 3, 2022
It’s not clear who was responsible for the website defacement, though a former Israeli Defense Forces cyber official speculated that it was part of an influence operation coinciding with Soleimani’s death and also timed to coincide with ongoing nuclear talks in Vienna. The talks — involving Iran and five major world governments, and the U.S. government indirectly — seek to find a way to restore the Iran nuclear deal the U.S. government abandoned under former President Trump.
The Twitter account and website of another Israeli news site, Maariv, was also targeted in Monday’s attack.
Hackers in the Middle East have been engaged in an digital back-and-forth that has affected civilian organizations in Israel and Iran.
In October, gas pumps around Iran went offline after an apparent breach. Meanwhile, mysterious groups of attackers have targeted private copanies based in Israel, threatening to expose sensitive personal information.