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Iranian IRGC forces hijack Israel-affiliated ship in strategic Strait of Hormuz on Saturday

Image released on April 13, 2024 shows an Iranian military helicopter hovering above a container ship named MCS Aries partially-owned by Israeli billionaire Eyal Ofer and what appear to be troops of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards descending via ropes onto the deck of the a 366m-long container ship in the Gulf of Oman (Photo: EYEPRESS via Reuters)

The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) hijacked the Israel-affiliated Portuguese-flagged vessel “MCS Aries” in the Strait of Hormuz at the entrance to the Persian Gulf on Saturday.

The ship belongs to London-based Zodiac Maritime, a company partially owned by the Israeli billionaire and shipping magnate Eyal Ofer. According to reports, after a stopover in the Persian Gulf, the MSC Aries was reportedly heading on its way to India when its tracking signals indicated the ship was being transported back to the Persian Gulf toward Iran.

Iranian state media news, IRNA, confirmed that IRGC forces seized a commercial vessel “related to the Zionist regime (Israel) in the Gulf.”

“A container ship named ‘MCS Aries’ was seized by the Sepah (IRGC) Navy Special Forces by carrying out a heliborne operation,” Iranian media reported.

It further added that the ship was in the Strait of Hormuz but "has now been directed towards the territorial waters” of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

In a statement on Saturday, IDF Spokesman Brig.-Gen. Daniel Hagari warned the Iranian regime of the consequences of escalating regional tension and violence.

"Iran will bear consequences for choosing to escalate this situation any further," Hagari said, confirming that the regime is the world’s largest sponsor of state terrorism and fuels conflicts in Gaza, Lebanon and Syria but also in Ukraine via its alliance with Russia.

Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz condemned Iran for the seizure of the vessel.

"The Ayatollah regime of Khamenei is a criminal regime that supports Hamas' crimes and is now conducting a pirate operation in violation of international law," Katz wrote on 𝕏.

Katz urged the free world, including the European Union, to list the IRGC as a de facto terrorist organization.

"I call on the European Union and the free world to immediately declare the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps as a terrorist organization and to sanction Iran now," Katz said.

The Red Sea and the Persian Gulf are crucial arteries for global maritime trade.

The Iranian-backed Yemenite Houthi terror militia has terrorized international shipping vessels in the Red Sea since the Hamas Oct. 7 invasion and massacre of over 1,200 Israelis.

In late March, the Houthis successfully fired a missile that penetrated Israeli airspace over Eilat for the first time. Earlier this month, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant officially declared the Houthi group a terror organization.

In December, Washington announced that the Iranian regime is “deeply involved” in coordinating and facilitating Houthi terror attacks against international Red Sea shipping.

“Iranian support throughout the Gaza crisis has enabled the Houthis to launch attacks against Israel and maritime targets, though Iran has often deferred operational decision-making authority to the Houthis,” White House National Security Council Spokesperson Adrienne Watson stated.

The senior White House official assessed that Tehran has provided the Houthis with advanced weapons for almost a decade, including drones and cruise missiles.

“Since 2015, Iran has transferred advanced weapons systems to the Houthis, including Unmanned Aerial Systems, Land Attack Cruise Missiles, and ballistic missiles that have been used in attacks against maritime vessels, including commercial vessels with no known links to Israel, and in attacks against Israel since October,” Watson said.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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