Israel’s main allies, the United States and Britain, blamed Iran for a deadly tanker attack near Oman on Sunday, despite Tehran’s refusal, and Washington vowed to respond “appropriately”.
The US and British statements came as Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said there was “evidence” that the Islamic Republic had linked Iran to the attack after rejecting its enemy’s “baseless allegations”.
MT Mercer Street, which is run by prominent Israeli billionaire Ayal Ofer, was attacked from Oman on Thursday.
A British security guard and a Romanian crew member were killed in the drone strike, according to US, British and ship operator Zodiac Maritime.
Israel has blamed Iran, with Foreign Minister Yair Lapid saying on Friday that he had ordered his diplomats to call for UN action against “Iranian terrorism”.
On Sunday, Iran denied involvement, and Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzada said Israel should “stop such baseless allegations.”
“Iran will not hesitate for a moment to defend its interests and national security,” he told reporters.
Shortly afterwards, Bennett accused Iran of “cowardly” trying to evade responsibility for the event.
“I am convinced that Iran attacked the ship,” Bennett said.
“There is intelligence evidence for this and we expect the international community to make it clear to the Iranian government that they have made a serious mistake,” he said.
In any case, we know how to send a message to Iran in our own way.
British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said London believed the attack was “deliberate, targeted and a clear violation of international law by Iran”, and that “British surveys” showed that Iran Used “one or more UAVs” (unmanned aerial vehicles) to target the tanker. .
“Iran must end such attacks, and ships must be allowed to operate freely in accordance with international law,” Robb said in a statement.
US Secretary of State Anthony Blankenship said Washington believed Iran had carried out the attack and vowed to respond appropriately.
Later on Sunday, Lipid noted that he had spoken with Blanken and Raab in recent days, and that he was “happy” to have both countries “condemn” these acts of terrorism.
“Israel will continue to engage with its allies around the world and work together to take the necessary steps to combat ongoing Iranian terrorism,” Lipid said in a statement.
A statement said Israel’s chief of staff had spoken to his British counterpart about recent developments in the region and the common challenges facing the two countries.
Retired General UC Cooper told military radio that Israel would probably take two measures – create global pressure on Iran and maintain its ability to act “outside the diplomatic realm.”
Thursday’s attack was the fifth attack on an Israeli-linked ship since February, said Dry Global, a maritime analyst.
The tanker was en route from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, to Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates when no cargo was on board, Zodiac Maritime reported.
Several recent attacks on Iranian ships have been reported, which Tehran has linked to Israel.
In March, Iran said it was “considering all options” following an attack on a cargo ship in the Mediterranean, which it blamed on Israel.
And in April, Tehran said its cargo ship, Suez, had been “exploded” in the Red Sea, following media reports that Israel had targeted the ship.
The New York Times reported at the time that it was an Israeli “retaliatory” attack after “Iran’s first attack on Israeli ships.”
In a March report, citing U.S. and Middle East officials, the Wall Street Journal said Israel had targeted at least a dozen ships, most of them Iranian oil, by the end of 2019.
Iran has also accused Israel of sabotaging its nuclear facilities and killing several of its scientists.
Tehran and world powers are in talks in Vienna to bring Washington back to the 2015 nuclear deal and lift sanctions, and to bring Iran back to complying with the nuclear commitments it waived in response to sanctions.
The deal became tense when former President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the United States in 2018 and re-imposed sanctions.
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