Iran is behind a mysterious explosion on an Israeli cargo vessel in the Persian Gulf and a response will be forthcoming, Israeli defense officials said over the weekend.
“We will need to keep investigating, but we can say for sure that Iran is attempting to damage Israeli infrastructure and harm Israelis,” Defense Minister Benny Gantz told the Kan public broadcaster.
A separate report in the Hebrew-language Ynet news site also cited senior defense officials as saying that Israel was “considering an appropriate response.”
“This will not be accepted silently.”
The Helios Ray cargo ship docked at Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on Sunday morning for repairs. It was en route to Singapore from Saudi Arabia when the blast occurred. No injuries were reported but the vessel sustained four holes on both sides of its hull.
Former Israeli ambassador to the U.N. Danny Danon also warned: “We will not be silent. The Iranians will pay a heavy price for any aggression against the Israeli state.”
Gantz told Kan that the proximity of the explosion to Iran means “there is a likelihood that this is an Iranian initiative. We are committed to continuing to check.”
In 2019, that area of the Persian Gulf saw multiple blasts on vessels for which the U.S. blamed Iran. Iran denied attacking the ships, which included two Saudi oil tankers.
Israeli and U.S. teams are expected to arrive in Dubai in the coming days to assess the damage. According to Israeli media, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps fired missiles at the ship.
The Israel and Isle of Man-affiliated vessel had last called at Dammam, Saudi Arabia and was underway to Singapore having sailed via the the Tunb-Farur and Strait of Hormuz TSS during daylight hours. Crew reported to be safe despite damage.
— Ambrey Intelligence (@Ambrey_Intel) February 26, 2021
Rami Ongar, the Israeli businessman who owns Helios Ray, told Ynet if the ship were attacked by Iran, it might have been as a warning to the Biden administration.
Last month, the IRGC seized a South Korean tanker amid heavy U.S. sanctions which led to the freeze of Iranian funds in South Korean banks.
Tehran has demanded that Washington lift the sanctions imposed by the Trump administration.