Netanyahu accuses Iran of attacking Israeli cargo ship

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday accused Iran of attacking an Israeli-owned ship in the Gulf of Oman last week, a mysterious explosion that exacerbated security concerns in the region.

Without providing any evidence for his claim, Netanyahu told Israeli public broadcaster Kan that “it was indeed an act of Iran, that is clear.”

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“Iran is Israel’s greatest enemy, I am determined to stop it. We are hitting it all over the region, ”Netanyahu said.

The explosion struck the MV Helios Ray, an Israeli freighter flying the flag of the Bahamas, as it left the Middle East for Singapore on Friday. The crew are unharmed, but the ship sustained two holes on its port side and two on its starboard side just above the waterline, according to U.S. defense officials.

The ship arrived at the port of Dubai for repairs on Sunday, days after the explosion that rekindled security concerns in Middle East waterways amid heightened tensions with Iran.

Iran has sought to pressure the United States to lift sanctions on Tehran as President Joe Biden’s administration considers the possibility of resuming negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program. Biden has repeatedly stated that the United States will revert to the nuclear deal between Tehran and the world powers from which his predecessor, Donald Trump, withdrew in 2018 only after Iran restored full compliance with it. OK.

It is still unclear what caused the explosion on the ship. The Helios Ray had unloaded cars at various ports in the Persian Gulf before the explosion forced it to reverse.

In recent days, the Israeli defense minister and the army chief have both indicated that they hold Iran responsible for what they called an attack on the ship. There was no immediate response from Iran to the Israeli claims.

Overnight, Syrian state media reported a series of suspected Israeli airstrikes near Damascus, claiming air defense systems intercepted most of the missiles. Israeli media said the alleged airstrikes were aimed at Iranian targets in response to the attack on the ship.

Israel has struck hundreds of Iranian targets in neighboring Syria in recent years, and Netanyahu has repeatedly said that Israel will not accept a permanent Syrian military presence there. Iran and its Lebanese proxy Hezbollah provided military support to Syrian President Bashar Assad in the Syrian civil war that has lasted for more than a decade.

The Israeli military declined to comment.

Iran has also blamed Israel for a recent round of attacks, including another mysterious explosion last summer that destroyed an advanced centrifuge assembly plant at its Natanz nuclear facility and the murder of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, a Leading Iranian scientist who founded the Islamic Republic’s military nuclear program two decades ago. Iran has repeatedly vowed to avenge the murder of Fakhrizadeh.

“It is very important that Iran does not have nuclear weapons, with or without a deal, I also told my friend Biden,” Netanyahu said on Monday.

Iranian threats of retaliation have sounded alarm bells in Israel since the signing of normalization agreements with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain in September.

This story was posted from an agency feed with no text editing.

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