Israel might have been involved in the attack on an Iranian-flagged container ship Shahr-e Kord, a spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry, Saeed Khatibzadeh, adding that there are several indications to support this theory.
"Given the geographical location of [the] attack, it is possible that this terrorist act was carried out by the Zionist regime. Whenever the region moves toward peace, this [Israeli] regime tries to create unrest," Khatibzadeh said.
The diplomat further noted that Tehran is still conducting an investigation into the incident. He added that should Iran find out which country was responsible for the incident, it will respond in the severest manner.
Khatibzadeh's statement comes after a report by Iran’s Nour News, which claimed that Israel was a "prime suspect" in the investigation into the attack on the Iranian ship. Another report, by the Wall Street Journal, claimed that Israel has targeted at least a dozen Iranian ships since 2019. At least two of the purportedly affected vessels were forced to return to port for repairs. The report claimed that Tel Aviv was targeting Iranian ships allegedly carrying oil to Syria.
Iranian Cargo Ship Attacked in the Mediterranean
Iranian container ship Shahr-e Kord caught fire as a result of what its owner described as a "terrorist act" and an act of "naval piracy" on 10 March as it was sailing through the international waters of the Mediterranean Sea. Iran said the blaze started after an unidentified explosive had hit the vessel's hull. An anonymous source told Nour News that the ship was hit with several high-explosive objects purportedly launched from an aircraft.
The fire was put out with the whole incident resulting in no deaths or injuries.
Iran's presumptions of Israel's possible involvement in the attack come in times of increased tensions between the two countries, which had long been at odds with each other. Tehran has been stating for decades that the state of Israel should not exist and accusing it of stealing the land from Palestinians. Tel Aviv, in turn, considers Iran a threat to its existence.
The tensions between the two have recently escalated after Israel accused Iran of attacking one of its tankers in the Gulf of Oman. One Israeli-owned cargo ship suffered damage to its hull, presumably as a result of a blast, at the end of February. The incident resulted in no casualties, but forced the ship to go to the nearest port for repairs. Tehran denied its involvement, and Tel Aviv presented no evidence supporting its accusations.
In a separate incident, Israeli Environmental Protection Minister Gila Gamliel claimed that Tehran was responsible for a massive oil spill, which affected Israeli shores and took place at the end of February. However, Israeli military and intelligence later stated that they were unaware of any findings that could put the blame on Iran as the perpetrator of the environmental disaster.