Jerusalem—Two major Israeli media outlets were hacked early Monday with a threatening message that appeared linked to the killing of a top Iranian general two years ago.
The website of the English-language Jerusalem Post and the Twitter account of Hebrew-language Maariv were taken over with a picture of a fist firing a shell out of a ring with a red stone on a finger toward an exploded dome.
“We are close to you where you do not think about it”, read text in English and Hebrew below the fist.
The hacking came exactly two years after the January 3, 2020 US drone strike in Baghdad that killed Iranian General Qasem Soleimani, who headed the Quds Force, the foreign operations arm of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.
The US said at the time that Soleimani, who was often seen wearing a ring with a red stone, was planning imminent action against US personnel in Iraq.
According to The Jerusalem Post, the hack lasted a few hours. Maariv’s Twitter account had deleted the foreign tweet, and had not posted anything new by Monday noon.
It was not immediately clear who had hacked the Israeli news outlets.
Israel fears Iran’s nuclear programme could be used to acquire weapons to harm the Jewish state, and the two countries regularly issue hints of possible strikes on one another.
Meanwhile, Israel targeted Hamas positions in southern Gaza late Saturday after rockets were fired from the Palestinian enclave, security sources and the army said.
“Fighter jets, helicopters and tanks struck a rocket manufacturing site, and military posts belonging to the Hamas terror organisation,” Israel’s army said.
Palestinian sources told AFP the army had targeted “a site of the al-Qassam Brigades, west of Khan Yunis” in southern Gaza, referring to the military wing of Hamas, the Islamist movement controlling the territory.
The sources also reported Israeli artillery fire on a Hamas observation base in northern Gaza.
Hamas condemned the Israeli strike, with a spokesman vowing “to defend our Palestinian people and liberate our land and our holy sites from the occupation and its colonial settlers until achieving the inevitable triumph.”
The Israeli strike came after two rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip on Saturday morning, falling into the Mediterranean Sea off Tel Aviv.
No warning sirens sounded and Israel’s Iron Dome rocket interception system did not deploy, the army said in a statement.
Sources in Hamas told AFP that “the firing of the two rockets on Saturday morning was a technical problem due to the bad weather”.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett addressed the Hamas explanation on Sunday morning.
“All of Hamas’s stories about lightning and thunder, that repeat themselves winter after winter, are no longer relevant,” he said at the beginning of the weekly cabinet meeting.
“Whoever aims missiles at the State of Israel will bear the consequences.”
Israel has maintained a blockade on the impoverished enclave since 2007, the year Hamas took power.
Last year Hamas fired barrages of rockets towards Israel during an 11-day conflict sparked by tensions in Jerusalem.
A fragile ceasefire came into force in late May.
Since then, only five rockets or mortar rounds were fired from Gaza towards Israeli territory, the military had said in an annual report released at the end of December, before the latest launches.