Monday, 16 May 2022 - 15 of Iyyar, 5782

Bennett: Iran behind attack on Israeli-managed ship near Oman coast, U.K. and U.S. join Israel in blaming Tehran

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“We believe this attack was deliberate, targeted and a clear violation of international law by Iran,” said Raab. “Iran must end such attacks, and vessels must be allowed to navigate freely in accordance with international law,” said British Foreign Minister Dominic Raab.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has blamed Iran for the attack that left two dead on the Israeli-managed oil tanker Mercer Street off the coast of Oman in the Arabian Sea last week.

Speaking at the weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday, Bennett said: ‘’The world 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 led to the deaths of a British citizen and a Romanian citizen. From here, I send condolences to Britain and Romania and, of course, to the families of the victims.’’

He added: ‘’I just heard that Iran, in a cowardly manner, is trying to evade responsibility for the event. They are denying this. Then, I determine, with absolute certainty that Iran carried out the attack against the ship. Iran’s thuggishness endangers not only 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 will make it clear to the Iranian regime that they have made a serious mistake. In any case, we know how to send a message to Iran in our own way.’’

The Japanese-owned ship Mercer Street is managed by Zodiac Maritime Ltd., a London-based company owned by Israeli tycoon Eyal Ofer. It sails under a Liberian flag.

According to Zodiac Maritime’s 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 aboard.

The United States and the United Kingdom joined Israel in accusing Iran for carrying out the attack, putting further pressure on Tehran as it denied being involved in the assault.

Calling it an “unlawful and callous attack,” British Foreign Minister Dominic Raab said his country and its allies planned a coordinated response over the strike.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said there was “no justification for this attack, which follows a pattern of attacks and other belligerent behavior.”

While no one has claimed responsibility for the attack, Iran and its militia allies have used so-called “suicide” drones in attacks previously, which crash into targets and detonate their explosive payloads.

In his statement, Raab said it was “highly likely” Iran attacked the tanker with one or more drones.

“We believe this attack was deliberate, targeted and a clear violation of international law by Iran,” said Raab. “Iran must end such attacks, and vessels must be allowed to navigate freely in accordance with international law.”

Blinken similarly described the U.S. as “confident” Iran carried out the attack, using multiple drones.

“These actions threaten freedom of navigation through this crucial waterway, international shipping and commerce, and the lives of those on the vessels involved,” he said in a statement.

On Monday, Romanian Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu said that his country will work with international partners on a response to the Iranian attack.

“Based on [the]available info, Romania strongly condemns the Iranian drone attack against Mercer Street, during which a Romanian citizen was killed,” Aurescu tweeted. “There is no justification whatsoever for deliberately attacking civilians.”

The Iranian threat remains the Israeli government’s highest priority, both in their ambition to become a nuclear threshold state and their plans for regional hegemony and supporting proxies against Israel in Lebanon, Syria and the Gaza Strip

Israel hopes this latest attack and the clear intelligence that Iran was responsible will strengthen the resolve of the international community to recognise the dangers inherent within the Iranian regime

Iran will likely be the top agenda item when Prime Minister Bennett travels to the US to meet President Biden later this month

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