Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett blamed Iran for the attack that left two dead on the Israel-run tanker Mercer Street off the coast of Oman in the Arabian Sea last week, writes Yossi Lempkowicz.
Speaking at the weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday August 1, Bennett said: “The world has recently received a reminder of Iranian aggression, this time on the high seas. The Iranians, who attacked the ship ‘Mercer Street’ with unmanned aerial vehicles, intended to attack an Israeli target. Instead, their act of piracy resulted in the deaths of a British citizen and a Romanian citizen. From there, I extend my condolences to Great Britain and Romania and, of course, to the families of the victims. ”
He added: “I have just heard that Iran is cowardly trying to escape responsibility for the event. They deny it. Then I determine, with absolute certainty, that Iran led the attack on the ship. Iran’s brutality not only endangers Israel, but also harms global interests, namely freedom of navigation and international trade. ”
He concluded: “The intelligence evidence for this exists and we expect the international community to make it clear to the Iranian regime that it has made a serious mistake. In any case, we know how to send a message to Iran in our own way. ”
The Japanese ship Mercer Street is managed by Zodiac Maritime Ltd., a London-based company owned by Israeli tycoon Eyal Ofer. She sails under the Liberian flag.
According to the Zodiac Maritime website, when the incident occurred, the vessel was in the northern Indian Ocean, en route to Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, with no cargo at all. edge.
The US and UK joined with Israel in accusing Iran of carrying out the attack, putting additional pressure on Tehran as it denied being involved in the attack.
Calling it an “illegal and ruthless attack”, British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said his country and its allies were planning a coordinated response on strikee.
US Secretary of State Antoine Blinken said there was “no justification for this attack, which follows a pattern of attacks and other belligerent behavior.”
Although no one claimed responsibility for the attack, Iran and his militia allies used the so-called “suicide” drones in previous attacks, which crash into targets and detonate their explosive payloads.
In his statement, Raab said it was “very likely” that Iran attacked the tanker with one or more drones.
“We believe this attack was deliberate, targeted and a flagrant violation of international law by Iran,” Raab said. “Iran must end such attacks and ships must be allowed to navigate freely in accordance with international law. “
Blinken also described the United States as “confident” that Iran carried out the attack, using several drones.
“These actions threaten the freedom of navigation on this crucial waterway, international navigation and commerce, and the lives of those on board the ships involved,” he said in a statement.
On Monday August 2, Romanian Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu said his country would work with international partners on a response to the Iranian attack.
“Based on the information available, Romania strongly condemns the Iranian drone attack on Mercer Street, in which a Romanian citizen was killed,” Aurescu tweeted. “There is no justification for deliberately attacking civilians. “
The Iranian threat remains the top priority of the Israeli government, both in its ambition to become a nuclear-threshold state and in its plans for regional hegemony and proxy support against Israel in Lebanon, Syria and the Gaza Strip.
Israel hopes that this latest attack and the clear intelligence for which Iran was responsible will strengthen the determination of the international community to recognize the dangers inherent in the Iranian regime.
Iran will likely be the first item on the agenda when Prime Minister Bennett travels to the United States to meet with President Biden later this month.