Israel Eyes Potential Response to Oil Tanker Attack, Accuses Iran of ‘Sowing Violence’
Earlier reports detailed an Israeli-managed merchant ship was attacked overnight Thursday while it floated some 185 miles from Oman in the Arabian Sea. Although investigations are ongoing to determine the series of events, Israel has placed blame on Iran and labeled the incident a retaliatory strike for attacks that were fired in Syria.
As senior Israeli leadership are brainstorming ways in which to respond to the overnight strike on the Liberia-flagged Mercer Street oil tanker, one official laying blame on Iran has stated that the Middle Eastern nation is a “global problem.”
Under the condition of anonymity, one government official relayed to the Times of Israel that the Thursday strike highlighted that Iran is on the verge of carrying out more blatant attacks on Israel, as the longtime foe will soon see new leadership with the incoming government of Iranian President-elect Ebrahim Raisi.
“Iran is sowing violence and destruction in every corner of the region,” the unidentified official claimed. “They were so eager to attack an Israeli target that they’ve embroiled themselves and incriminated themselves in the killing of foreign citizens.”
“Iran isn’t just Israel’s problem, it is a global problem, and its behavior endangers free global shipping and trade. Our campaign against them will continue,” they added.
The senior official further alleged that the hardline stances of the looming Raisi government will demonstrate that “the masks are coming off, and no one can pretend they don’t know the character of the Iranian regime.”
The remarks cement just the latest in ever-escalating tensions between longtime foes Israel and Iran. It’s worth noting that blame for the incident has not yet officially been issued as various officials, including the UK and US government, are still examining the situation and outlining a timeline of the events.
Earlier, preliminary forensic findings suggested that the attack was carried out with the use of multiple drones, prompting Israeli officials to subsequently identify the unmanned vehicles as Iranian devices despite ongoing investigative efforts.
Yair Lapid, the Israeli minister of foreign affairs, took to social media to address the incident, noting that he is in “constant contact” with Dominic Raab, who serves as the British foreign secretary. Of the two individuals killed in the strike, one was a UK national. The second fatality was a Romanian national.
“Iran is not just an Israeli problem, but an exporter of terror, destruction and instability that hurt us all,” Lapid said in a statement released via Twitter. “The world must not be silent in the face of Iranian terror, which also harms freedom of navigation.”
The statement went on to detail that Lapid emphasized to his British counterpart the “need to respond severely to the attack.”
According to the Times of Israel, ongoing talks among government officials include Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz and IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi, as well as several other defense officials. Various regional media outlets, such as Walla News, Channel 12 and Ynet, have cited unidentified officials as saying that a potential retaliatory strike against Iran could be forthcoming.
© AP Photo / Sebastian ScheinerIsraeli politician Benny Gantz gestures as he speaks during a conference in Jerusalem, Sunday, March 7, 2021
Israeli politician Benny Gantz gestures as he speaks during a conference in Jerusalem, Sunday, March 7, 2021
© AP Photo / Sebastian Scheiner
In blaming the strike on Iran, many insiders have hinted that the move could have been part of a retaliation for a recent attack on Syria that was cited as being executed by Israel last week near the central city of Homs. Such claims have been further bolstered by a report from al-Alam that cited unidentified Iranian officials saying that the incident was indeed a response to the various exchanges across Homs.
Zodiac Maritime, a London-based firm that manages the oil tanker and happens to belong to Israeli shipping magnate Eyal Ofer, had previously detailed that piracy was suspected as the cause; however, that claim was quickly rejected by involved parties.
The managing company has not yet released an update on any new developments but did reveal that the vessel was being escorted to a safe location by the US Navy, and was traveling “under her own power at 14 knots.”