Iran linked to explosion that struck Israeli-owned ship in Mideast

Henrietta Strickland
March 3, 2021

It came days after the Thursday explosion that hit the Israeli-owned MV Helios Ray, a vehicle carrier travelling from Saudi Arabia to Singapore.

Asked if Israel would retaliate, he said: "You know my policy".

Israel has struck hundreds of Iranian targets in neighboring Syria in recent years, and Netanyahu has repeatedly said Israel will not accept a permanent Iranian military presence there. "We have no idea whether this was an incident that was past of the tensions between Iran and the United States and whether there is a link to the fact the ship's owner is Israeli", Kan reported Ungar as having said. "Iran is the biggest enemy of Israel, and we will strike it throughout the region (.)".

An explosion has struck an Israeli-owned cargo ship sailing out of the Middle East, in an unexplained blast that renews concerns over ship security in the region amid escalating tensions between the U.S. and Iran.

US President Joe Biden, who took office five weeks ago, has opened the door to resuming negotiations with Tehran over its nuclear programme.

Kan News said Israel unequivocally believes Tehran was behind the explosion, and high-level discussions on the matter are expected to take place Sunday.

Netanyahu's remarks came hours after Syrian air defences intercepted what they said were Israeli missiles over Damascus, in an area where Iranian Revolutionary Guards and their Hezbollah allies are believed to be present.

Iran responded to Netanyahu's statement saying it "strongly rejected" the claim that it was behind the attack. Stamco Ship Management declined to comment when contacted by phone by Reuters. Israel did not confirm that, but has previously said it was launching frequent military actions against Iranian deployment or arms handovers within Syria.

It did cause "two holes about a meter and a half (five feet) in diameter" in damage, he said, without elaborating.

The US dropped seven 500-pound munitions on a crossing used by the militia groups to move weapons across the border.

"I think it is part of the game between Iran and the USA, that's why they are hitting Western ships", he said.

Tensions have risen in the Gulf region since the United States reimposed sanctions on Iran in 2018 after then-president Donald Trump withdrew Washington from a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and major powers. Iran is seeking to pressure Biden to grant the sanctions relief it received under the deal that former President Donald Trump abandoned almost three years ago.

Iran's repeated vows to avenge Fakhrizadeh's killing have raised alarms in Israel, particularly as the Gulf sees an increase in Israeli traffic following the country's normalization deals with the UAE and Bahrain.

Critics have questioned whether Netanyahu would be able to coordinate the Israeli position on the volatile issue with Biden. Iran promptly dismissed the charges.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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