Israeli newspaper hacked, Emirati vessel seized on anniversary of Soleimani killing

Three strategic strikes were made by Iranian-backed forces in the early hours of Monday morning, two years to the day since US forces killed Quds Force leader Qasem Soleimani.

By Donna Rachel Edmunds, World Israel News

The Iranian regime scored a number of strategic ‘wins’ on Monday. Houthi rebels seized a ship off the coast of Yemen; in Israel, two newspapers were hacked, and in Iraq, armed drones targeted Baghdad airport.

The series of strikes were timed to coincide with the second anniversary of the assassination of former Quds Force general Qassem Soleimani at the same airport in Baghdad.

At around midnight between Sunday and Monday, the British military’s United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations reported an attack on an unnamed vessel in the Red Sea. That ship turned out to be the Emirati-owned Rwabee, taken by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels off the coast of Hodeida.

Hours later, the Saudi-Arabian led coalition fighting in Yemen, which includes the United Arab Emirates, released a statement accusing the Houthis of “armed piracy,” the Associated Press reported.

“The militia must promptly release the ship or the coalition forces will undertake all necessary measures and procedures to handle this violation, including the use of force if necessary,” Brig. Gen. Turki al-Malki said in a statement.

The Houthis later released footage of their own from the Rwabee showing military equipment on the vessel, contradicting a claim by the Saudis that the ship was carrying medical equipment.

“It is completely obvious today that the information that this ship was carrying a civilian field hospital is not correct,” said Yahia Sarei, a Houthi military spokesman. “This is clearly military equipment.”

Saudi Arabia has denied the claim, countering that the military equipment was planted on the ship by the Houthis.

Meanwhile, readers logging on to the Jerusalem Post’s website in the early hours of Monday morning were met with an image of a fist bearing a ring associated with Soleimani, from which a missile was being fired. Alongside it was an exploding target, used during a recent Iranian military drill, designed to look like Israel’s nuclear research center at Dimona. The text “we are close to you where you do not think about it” appeared in both English and Hebrew.

The same image was also posted to the Twitter account of Maariv, the Jerusalem Post’s Hebrew-language sister paper.

“We are aware of the apparent hacking of our website, alongside a direct threat to Israel,” the Jerusalem Post later tweeted.

The two incidents came as Iran marked the second anniversary of the assassination of Qassem Solaimani, former general of the Quds Force, a branch of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp. Soleimani was killed at around 1 a.m. on January 3, 2020 by a U.S. drone strike near Baghdad international airport. Soleimani’s body was identified from a ring he was wearing at the time of his death.

Troops shot down two socalled “suicide drones” at the same airport on Monday, one of which was reported to have had the words “Soleimani’s revenge” painted on it in Arabic. No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack, and no injuries or damage to US or Iraqi forces was reported.