Iran accuses Israel of attack on cargo vessel in Mediterranean

An unnamed investigator told the semi-official Nournews that “one of the strong possibilities is that this terrorist operation was carried out by the Zionist regime.”

By World Israel News Staff

An Iranian cargo vessel was targeted this week in a “terrorist attack” in the Mediterranean Sea, the country’s state TV reported on Friday. There were no casualties in the explosion, the report said.

The report quoted Ali Ghiasian, spokesman for Iran’s state shipping line, who said that Wednesday’s attack damaged Shahr-e Kord, a commercial vessel traveling to Europe. He said an “explosives device” damaged the hull of the ship and set off a small fire that was quickly extinguished.

Ghiasian said “legal prosecution of the perpetrators of this terrorist action will be pursued through competent international organizations.”

The report said the ship would continue on its path following a damage assessment, without providing more details.

On Saturday, Reuters reported that local media were quoting an Iranian investigator who blamed Israel as the most likely suspect behind the strike.

An unnamed individual told Iran’s semi-official Nournews that “considering the geographical location and the way the ship was targeted, one of the strong possibilities is that this terrorist operation was carried out by the Zionist regime.”

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According to the Wall Street Journal on March 11, “Israel has targeted at least a dozen vessels bound for Syria and mostly carrying Iranian oil out of concern that petroleum profits are funding extremism in the Middle East,” citing U.S. and regional officials.

The sources tell the Journal that since the end of 2019, “Israel has used weaponry including water mines to strike Iranian vessels or those carrying Iranian cargo as they navigate toward Syria in the Red Sea and in other areas of the region.”

These attacks were previously undisclosed.

Earlier this week, Israel accused Iran’s Revolutionary Guard of attaching an explosive device to the Israeli-owned cargo vessel Helios Ray in international waters near the Gulf of Oman in February. The vessel was en route from Saudi Arabia to Singapore. Israel said the explosion caused “severe damage, forcing the ship to return to the port of Dubai to ensure the safety of the crew.”

Iran rejected the claim as an unfounded allegation.

Israel’s Minister of Environmental Protection also accused Iran of being behind the massive oil spill that polluted Israel’s beaches in February, saying “environmental terrorists” were responsible for a deliberate attack on Israel.

Iran has repeatedly threatened Israel’s destruction. Earlier this week, Israel’s Defense Minister Benny Gantz told Fox News that his country is upgrading contingency plans to strike Iranian targets if Tehran shows signs of a nuclear escalation.

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Iran denies it is pursuing nuclear weapons and says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.

AP contributed to this report.