An Israeli-owned Liberian-flagged oil tanker operated by Eastern Pacific Shipping was targeted by a bomb-carrying drone on Tuesday, with a projectile hitting the vessel about 150 miles (240 kilometers) off the coast of Oman, officials revealed.
According to Eastern Pacific Shipping, there were no injuries among the crew members of the Pacific Zircon tanker, but the vessel, owned by Israeli billionaire Idan Ofer, sustained some damage.
“We are in communication with the vessel and there are no reports of injuries or pollution. All crew are safe and accounted for,” the shipping company said in an official statement. “There is some minor damage to the vessel’s hull but no spillage of cargo or water ingress.”
No country or organization has claimed responsibility so far for the terrorist attack; however, Western and Israeli security officials said they believe Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps conducted the attack.
General Michael Erik Kurilla, the head of the United States Central Command, openly blamed Iran for the attack in a Wall Street Journal interview, noting that the maritime strait where it occurred is a critical location.
The attack “demonstrates, once again, the destabilizing nature of Iranian malign activity in the region,” he said.
Israel appears to agree with the general’s assessment, according to an unnamed Israeli official, who told the Associated Press: “It is an Iranian attack; there is a consensus on this in the Israeli intelligence and defense community.”
Military experts believe an Iranian Shahed-136, known as “exploding drones,” was used in the attack; Iran has also supplied these kinds of drones to Russia for the war on Ukraine.
It would not be the first time Iran has attacked Israeli-affiliated vessels in Middle Eastern waterways.
In February 2021, an explosive projectile hit the Israeli-owned ship Helios Ray in the Gulf of Oman. Two months later, the Israeli ship Hyperion Ray was hit in the Persian Gulf near the United Arab Emirates. In both cases, the Iranian regime was the suspected perpetrator.
Jake Sullivan, U.S. President Joe Biden’s national security advisor, condemned the latest drone attack and indicated that Washington suspected Iran as responsible for it.
“There is no justification for this attack, which is the latest in a pattern of such actions and broader destabilizing activities,” Sullivan said. “We will work with partners and allies … to hold Iran accountable and respond through appropriate means.”
Torbjorn Soltvedt, an analyst at global risk intelligence firm Verisk Maplecroft, said the drone attack “does not come as a surprise” and that he believes it to be linked to the stalled nuclear talks between Iran and the world powers.
“The risk of attacks against shipping and energy infrastructure in the wider region is rising mainly due to the lack of progress in U.S.-Iranian nuclear diplomacy and the decision by Washington to apply further sanctions pressure on Iran,” Soltvedt said. “Since 2019, Iran has consistently responded to new U.S. sanctions with covert military action in the region.”
“There is not just an increasing risk of disruptive attacks against energy infrastructure in the region, but also a growing risk of a wider military confrontation with more serious consequences for world energy markets,” he said.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani rejected the accusations, claiming to be unaware of any attack being conducted by the Islamic regime.
Iran and Israel have been locked into a long shadow war across the Middle East and beyond. At the heart of the conflict is the ayatollah regime’s opposition to Israel’s existence.
Iran has billions invested in its nuclear program and in building a vast network of terror proxies, such as Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Houthis in Yemen and pro-Iranian militias in Syria, Gaza and Iraq.
Israel has reportedly countered the threat through hundreds of strikes against Iranian targets in Syria and elsewhere.
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.