Since late 2019, Israel has targeted at least a dozen cargo ships heading for Syria, most of them loaded with Iranian oil, according to a Thursday report by The Wall Street Journal.
The report says that the attacks were carried out due to concerns by Tel Aviv that petroleum profits are allegedly funding Middle East extremism. Some of the strikes were reportedly targeting Iranian efforts to move other cargo around the region, including weapons, according to unnamed US officials cited in the report.
The reported attacks did not result in the vessels sinking, but forced at least two ships to return to port in Iran.
Earlier in March, suggestions emerged from Tel Aviv claiming that Tehran deliberately carried out "environmental terrorism" against its longtime foe after a massive oil spill in February, believed to be from the Emerald, a Libyan-owned ship said to be transporting oil from Iran to Syria. Iran faces harsh international sanctions for continuing its oil trade with Syria.
Many cast doubt on the environmental terrorism claim, particularly Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz.
As tensions between Tel Aviv and Tehran continue to simmer, an Israeli-owned ship, the MV Helios Ray, suffered an explosion en route to Singapore while sailing through the Gulf of Oman. Israel pointed its finger at Iran, claiming without evidence that the Islamic republic was behind the blast, with Iran denying the accusations.