Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday accused Iran of attacking an Israeli-owned ship in the Gulf of Oman last week, a mysterious explosion that further spiked security concerns in the region.
Without offering any evidence to his claim, Mr. Netanyahu told Israeli public broadcaster Kan that “it was indeed an act by Iran, that’s clear.”
“Iran is the greatest enemy of Israel, I am determined to halt it. We are hitting it in the entire region,” Mr. Netanyahu said. Iran promptly dismissed the charges.
The blast struck the Israeli-owned MV Helios Ray, a Bahamian-flagged roll-on, roll-off vehicle cargo ship, as it was sailing out of the West Asia on its way to Singapore on Friday. The crew was unharmed, but the vessel sustained two holes on its port side and two on its starboard side just above the waterline, according to American defence officials.
The ship came to Dubai’s port for repairs on Sunday, days after the blast that revived security concerns in Mideast waterways amid heightened tensions with Iran.
Iran has sought to pressure the U.S. to lift sanctions on Tehran as President Joe Biden’s administration considers option for returning to negotiations with Iran over its nuclear programme. Mr. Biden has said repeatedly the U.S. would return to the nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers that his predecessor, Donald Trump, withdrew from in 2018 only after Iran restores its full compliance with the accord.
The explosion on the Israeli-owned ship last week recalled the tense summer of 2019, when the U.S. military accused Iran of attacking several oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman with limpet mines, designed to be attached magnetically to a ship’s hull. Tehran has denied the accusations that it was behind the limpet mine attacks.