A Briton and a Romanian were killed when an Israeli-run oil tanker was attacked off the coast of Oman on Thursday, the company said on Friday, in an incident which the Israeli foreign minister blamed on Iran and deserved a stern response.
There have been various explanations for what happened to the Mercer Street, a Japanese ship flying the Liberian flag, with Israeli-owned Zodiac Maritime describing the incident as “suspected piracy” and a source at the Oman Maritime Security Center. like an accident that happened. outside Omani territorial waters.
Iran and Israel have traded accusations of reciprocal attacks on ships in recent months and Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid has said he has told the British Foreign Secretary the need for a firm response to the incident in which two crew members, one British and the other Romanian, were killed.
“Iran is not only an Israeli problem, but an exporter of terrorism, destruction and instability which harms us all. The world must not remain silent in the face of Iranian terrorism which also undermines freedom of navigation “Lapid said in a statement.
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US and European sources familiar with the intelligence reports said Iran was their prime suspect in the incident, which a US defense official said appeared to have been carried out by a drone, but stressed that their governments were looking for conclusive evidence.
Al Alam TV, the Iranian government’s Arabic-language television network, cited unnamed sources as saying the attack on the ship was a response to an alleged and unspecified Israeli attack on Dabaa airport in Syria.
There was no immediate official reaction from Iran to the accusation that it may have been responsible.
Israeli news site Ynet said the assessment in Israel was that there had been two attacks on the ship, hours apart. The first caused no damage, and the second struck the bridge, causing casualties.
He quoted an unnamed Israeli official as saying, “Israel will have a hard time turning a blind eye” to the attack.
Tensions have grown in the Gulf region since the United States reimposed sanctions on Iran in 2018 after then-President Donald Trump withdrew Washington from the 2015 Tehran nuclear deal with The big powers.
The United States sees the possibility of Iran obtaining nuclear weapons, an ambition denied by Tehran, as a direct threat to its ally Israel.
UK Maritime Commercial Operations (UKMTO), which provides information on maritime safety, said the attack was not piracy. The ship was about 152 nautical miles northeast of the Omani port of Duqm when it was attacked, the statement said.
London-based Zodiac Maritime, which is controlled by Israeli tycoon Eyal Ofer whose father Sammy was Israel’s most famous shipowner, said the ship was sailing under the control of its crew and its own power towards a safe place with a US naval escort.
According to Refinitiv’s vessel tracking, the midsize tanker was heading to Fujairah, a bunkering port and oil terminal in the United Arab Emirates, from Dar es Salaam in Tanzania.