A group of pro-Palestinian hackers called AnonGhost have defaced a United Nations (UN) website following rising tensions surrounding the future of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in East Jerusalem.
AnonGhost is a disparate group of around 15 pro-Palestinian hackers/activists who are based in Africa, the Middle East and Europe and who have been carrying the fight to Israel in cyberspace for the last 15 months.
The latest attack has seen AnonGhost hit a UN website which is used by officials to log into the UN system. The website was defaced with the AnonGhost logo, a message detailing the reason for the attack and images purporting to show dead Palestinian children.
The message reads:
We are the sound of the forgotten people, the freedom fighter in the cyberworld and our main target is Sionisme and israhell, if you are asking why your website got hacked by us, its basically because we want to share our message and show the world who we are, we are not looking for fame but we have a goal to achieve we supporte all hackers teams and we supporte all the freedom mouvement in the world. #OpSaveAlAqsa decided , Expect us!
No specific reason was given for attacking the UN, with the AnonGhost team apparently hitting sporadic targets in recent weeks which have included the Shropshire Fire and Rescue website and the Nottinghamshire Police website.
Operation Save Al-Aqsa
The attack was carried out under the banner of Operation Save Al-Aqsa, referring to the mosque in East Jerusalem which is the third holiest site in Islam but which has been the centre of rising tensions in recent weeks with protests erupting over Jewish visitors to the site and worries over a possible change which would allow Jews to pray at the flashpoint location.
Two weeks ago, Israeli Housing Minister Uri Ariel suggested that the Al-Aqsa mosque could be replaced by a Jewish temple and last week Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said that Israel's policy towards a ban on Jewish prayer at the Temple Mount site would not change.
The holy site was captured by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War and an agreement was reached whereby Muslims would be able to pray on the Temple Mount while Jewish prayer would be limited to the Western Wall area.
We are not Anonymous
While many associate AnonGhost with the larger Anonymous movement, the founder of the group - known as Mauritania Attacker Admin (MAA) - is eager to disassociate his group from Anonymous.
"We don't have any relationship with Anonymous. AnonGhost is different from Anonymous, we don't have the same goal and don't have the same level in hacking," MAA told IBTimes UK back in July.
We contacted MAA to try and find out the reason for the attack on the UN websites but at the time of publication had not received a response.
Similarly the UN press office has not responded to a questions about how this attack happened and what systems were compromised.