JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday accused Iran of attacking an Israeli-owned ship within the Gulf of Oman final week, a mysterious explosion that additional spiked safety considerations within the area.
With out providing any proof to his declare, Netanyahu instructed Israeli public broadcaster Kan that “it was certainly an act by Iran, that’s clear.”
“Iran is the best enemy of Israel, I’m decided to halt it. We’re hitting it in your complete area,” Netanyahu stated. Iran promptly dismissed the costs.
The blast struck the Israeli-owned MV Helios Ray, a Bahamian-flagged roll-on, roll-off car cargo ship, because it was crusing out of the Center East on its approach to Singapore on Friday. The crew was unhurt, however the vessel sustained two holes on its port facet and two on its starboard facet simply above the waterline, in response to American protection officers.
The ship got here to Dubai’s port for repairs on Sunday, days after the blast that revived safety considerations in Mideast waterways amid heightened tensions with Iran.
Iran has sought to strain the U.S. to carry sanctions on Tehran as President Joe Biden’s administration considers choice for returning to negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program. Biden has stated repeatedly the U.S. would return to the nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers that his predecessor, Donald Trump, withdrew from in 2018 solely after Iran restores its full compliance with the accord.
The explosion on the Israeli-owned ship final week recalled the tense summer season of 2019, when the U.S. navy accused Iran of attacking a number of oil tankers within the Gulf of Oman with limpet mines, designed to be hooked up magnetically to a ship’s hull. The Gulf of Oman leads by the slim Strait of Hormuz, a significant passage for the world’s oil provides. Tehran has denied the accusations that it was behind the limpet mine assaults.
It stays unclear what triggered Friday’s blast on the Helios Ray. The vessel had discharged automobiles at numerous ports within the Persian Gulf earlier than the explosion pressured it to reverse course. Over the weekend, Israel’s protection minister and military chief had each indicated they held Iran accountable for what they stated was an assault on the vessel.
Iran responded to Netanyahu’s assertion saying it “strongly rejected” the declare that it was behind the assault. In a press briefing, International Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh stated Netanyahu was “affected by an obsession with Iran” and described his fees as “fear-mongering.”
Khatibzadeh additionally accused Israel of taking “suspicious actions within the area” towards Iran in current months to undermine the 2015 nuclear deal, with out elaborating, and vowed Iran would reply.
“Israel is aware of very effectively that our response within the subject of nationwide safety has at all times been fierce and correct,” he stated.
In a single day, Syrian state media reported a sequence of alleged Israeli airstrikes close to Damascus, saying air protection techniques had intercepted a lot of the missiles. Israeli media experiences stated the alleged airstrikes had been on Iranian targets in response to the ship assault.
Israel has struck lots of of Iranian targets in neighboring Syria in recent times, and Netanyahu has repeatedly stated Israel is not going to settle for a everlasting Iranian navy presence there. Iran and its Lebanese proxy Hezbollah have supplied navy assist to Syrian President Bashar Assad within the greater than decade-long Syrian civil battle.
The Israeli navy declined remark.
Iran additionally has blamed Israel for a current sequence of assaults, together with one other mysterious explosion final summer season that destroyed a complicated centrifuge meeting plant at its Natanz nuclear facility and the killing of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, a high Iranian scientist who based the Islamic Republic’s navy nuclear program 20 years in the past. Iran has repeatedly vowed to avenge Fakhrizadeh’s killing.
“It’s most necessary that Iran doesn’t have nuclear weapons, with or with out an settlement, this I additionally instructed to my buddy Biden,” Netanyahu stated Monday.
Iranian threats of retaliation have raised alarms in Israel because the signing of normalization offers with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain in September.
Related Press writers Isabel DeBre in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and Nasser Karimi in Tehran, Iran, contributed to this report.