An Israeli cargo ship was damaged by an explosion on Thursday and, according to Israel’s Channel 12 News, the damage was caused by an Iranian missile attack.
The damaged ship belongs to the Israeli company XT Management Ltd and was traveling between Tanzania and India at the time of the incident. A Liberian flagged ship belonging to the Israeli company, the LORI, was traveling between those two destinations and was transitting the Persian Gulf on Thursday, according to Marine Traffic.
Aurora Intel tweeted, “Initial unconfirmed images circulating social media of the reported damage”
The Twitter account also raised the possibility that the damage was caused by a drone strike.
A spokeswoman for Israel’s Foreign Ministry told Haaretz the ministry was looking into the reported attack.
The incident comes nearly a month after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused Iran of being behind an attack on another Israeli cargo ship, the MV Helios Ray. On February 25, the cargo ship was damaged by a series of blasts. Days later, Netanyahu said the attack “was indeed an act by Iran, that is clear,” adding, “Iran is Israel’s greatest enemy, I’m determined to block it, we’re striking at it throughout the region.”
Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh denied Iran’s involvement in the suspected attack. Khatibzadeh said Iran “strongly rejected” the accusation and said Netanyahu was “suffering from an obsession with Iran and was engaging in “fear-mongering.” Khatibzadeh also said Iran would respond if Israel retaliated against Iran for the incident.
Two weeks after the suspected Iranian attack on the Israeli vessel, an Iranian cargo ship, the Shahr E Kord, was also damaged by an explosion. Iranian officials did not directly attribute the attack to Israel, but referred to the attack as an act of terrorism. A spokesman for the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Line Group (IRISL Group), which operates the Iranian cargo ship, said, “Fortunately, none of the crew of the Iranian commercial vessel were harmed in this terrorist attack.”
The Wall Street Journal recently reported, according to U.S. and regional officials, that Israel has been behind at least a dozen attacks on Iranian shipments, mostly carrying oil, bound for Syria and other countries in the Middle East. The strategy of attacking Iranian shipments reportedly comes amid concern the shipments are bringing profit to Iran that it can then use to sponsor terrorist activity in the region. Last week, Haaretz reported Israel has carried out dozens of strikes on Iranian ships in recent months, aimed at disrupting Iranian revenue streams used to purchase weapons.