Iranian investigators believe that Israel is extremely likely to have been behind an attack in the Mediterranean this week that partly destroyed an Iranian container ship.
When asked about Israel’s potential involvement in the incident on March 10, Israeli officials preferred to avoid responding on Friday.
“We foil arms supplies and other things relating to operational development and military capabilities by air, sea and land,” Israeli Defense Minister and the leader of Blue and White party said. “And by this I am not saying whether we did or did not do this or that.”
A container ship named “Shahr e Kord” was struck most likely an explosive device, causing a minor fire in the Mediterranean. No injury one was reported, by Iran. Initial reports, according to two maritime intelligence sources, were that the ship had been deliberately struck by an unspecified party.
On Saturday, an Iranian foreign ministry spokesman asserted that the sabotage attack was “clearly in breach of international law.”
Saeed Khatibzade told the media, “Measures to trace the perpetrators of this sabotage activity are on our agenda.”
A member of the Iranian investigating team on the incident told local reporters that “Given the geographical position and the manner in which the ship was attacked, one of the strong hypotheses is that this terrorist activity was carried out by the Zionist Regime.”
Two weeks before the new incident, the MV Helios Ray, an Israeli-owned ship, was struck by an explosion in Oman waters.
While a US defense official said the explosion left holes on both sides of the vessel’s hull, the cause was not readily evident. Israel put the blame for blast on Iran. Tehran’s response was one of denial.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Israel has struck more than 10 vessels going to Syria in the last two years, most of which carrying Iranian oil.
According to investigative journal, Israeli artillery has regularly targeted Iranian warships or boats carrying Iranian cargo en route to Syria and other parts of the region since 2019.
The WSJ’s reporting received no official acknowledgment or denial. If this is real, it means that the rivalry between Iran and Israel has advanced to include maritime clashes.
The Israeli navy is actively concentrated in the Mediterranean and Red Seas, with missile corvettes and five diesel-fueled submarines as its main warships.
Reuters, quoting from anonymous sources, confirmed that three more Iranian ships have been damaged in the Red Sea in recent weeks due to unexplained reasons.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the Israeli naval attacks, which involved the use of underwater mines, were meant to target oil revenues to deepen local economic severity in Iran. They also referred to Iranian role in boosting extremism in the region, a claim sharply rejected by authorities in Syria and Iraq.
The seemingly proxy, or secret, war between Israel and Iran kicked off months ago after reports about Israel’s involvement in terrorist attacks on Iranian cargos and persons were confirmed by Iranian sources. Iranian authorities believe Israel had direct role in assassination of its renowned major General Soleimani in Iraq last year.
Furthermore, Iranians have emphasized that the main perpetrator of the assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, a major character in Iranian nuclear industry, was Israel. Fakhrizadeh was assassinated by unknown parties on November 27, 2020 in his own car.
Israel evaded commenting on the incident, as it does about the vessels and maritime cargos. Iranians, on the other side, considering Israel’s refusal to claim the attacks, started some scattered attack on Israeli positions and targets.