Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has accused arch-foe Iran of attacking an Israeli-linked oil tanker earlier this month.
“On the Iranian front, our efforts are unceasing for the simple reason that Iran’s acts of aggression are unceasing,” Netanyahu said on Sunday at the start of his weekly cabinet meeting.
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“Last week Iran again attacked an oil tanker in the Gulf [region] and struck at the international freedom of navigation,” he said.
Iran denied Israeli claims, foreign ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanaani said on Monday.
“We strongly reject the Zionist regime’s accusation against Iran regarding the attack on the Israeli tanker,” Kanaani said.
Campo Square, a Liberian-flagged product tanker, was on February 10 “hit by an airborne object while in the Arabian Sea, approximately 300 nautical miles [555 kilometres] off the coasts of India and Oman”, according to Eletson, the Greek company that manages the vessel.
“Both the vessel and crew are safe and proceeding as per planned passage. There is minor damage to the vessel.”
A spokesman for Eletson said the Liberian company that owns Campos Square was “linked” to Zodiac Maritime, the British shipping company founded and chaired by an Israeli, Eyal Ofer.
Striking Iranian targets
Iran has been engaged in a shadow war with Israel for years, with Tehran accusing Israel of being behind a series of sabotage attacks and assassinations targeting its nuclear programme.
Iran and the West have also been at odds over Tehran’s nuclear activity and its supply of arms – including long-range “suicide drones” – for Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Tehran has accused Israel of being behind a January drone attack on a defence ministry site in Iran’s central Isfahan province.
In November, Israel and the United States blamed Iran for a drone strike on a tanker off the coast of Oman.
The vessel was operated by a company owned by Idan Ofer, Eyal’s brother.
A Zodiac Maritime-operated vessel was struck by a drone off Oman in July 2021, killing two crew members, in an attack blamed on Iran.
Israel has long said it is willing to strike Iranian targets if diplomacy fails to curb Tehran’s nuclear or missile programmes, but does not comment on specific incidents.
Talks between Iran and world powers to revive a 2015 nuclear deal have stalled since September of last year. Under the pact, abandoned by Washington in 2018 under then-US President Donald Trump, Tehran agreed to limit nuclear work in return for an easing of sanctions.