Israel Blames Iran for Ship Blasts and Eyes Military Response

Evidence lacking but Israeli leaders reportedly united in calls for retaliation

Israeli cargo ship MV Helios Ray spent the weekend in Dubai for repairs after a series of unexplained explosions knocked holes into it near the water level. The ship was not disabled, and no crew were injured in the attack.

Much is still not known about what happened. Defense Minister Benny Gantz declared almost immediately that there was “a likelihood” Iran was to blame, and before long Israel’s Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi had declared Iran definitely to blame, while offering no evidence. He mentioned Iran’s “nuclear threat” and said this was just another Iranian threat.

Even before reaching conclusions, Israeli officials were talking up a military response, saying they wouldn’t let the incident pass without retaliation. High-level meetings have been held in Israel, and all indications are that there is near uniformity in going after Iran over this.

In cases where Israel wants to go after Iran, evidence is broadly beside the point, they’ve been given a nominal pretext for military threats and action, and they’re not going to waste that opportunity on the possibility that they’re wrong in assigning blame.

Evidence may be eschewed within Israel, and with pro-Israel factions abroad, but coming up with convincing evidence would be a big step. This is likely to oblige Israel to keep the attacks limited. Since they attack so-called Iranian targets in Syria every few days anyhow, something more in that area, but bigger, is probably their first choice.

Beyond that, Israel blaming Iran for something has tended to be a way to play for diplomatic advantage with other nations, and they might use it to try to distance the US from any renewed negotiations with Iran.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.