On Monday, without offering evidence, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blamed Iran for an explosion that hit an Israeli-owned ship in the Gulf of Oman last Thursday and said Israel was “striking” the Islamic Republic across the region.
“It is indeed an Iranian act, that’s clear,” Netanyahu said of the blast in an interview with Israel’s Kan broadcaster. “As for a reaction — you know my policy. Iran is Israel’s greatest enemy, I’m determined to block it, we’re striking at it throughout the region.”
Netanyahu’s comments came a day after Israel bombed Damascus, Syria. Israeli officials rarely comment on airstrikes in Syria, but when they do, they frame the strikes as attacks on Iranian targets, although they usually hit Iraqi Shia militias. While some are speculating this airstrike could be retaliation for the ship explosion, Israeli airstrikes in Syria happen all the time.
For their part, Iran strongly rejected Israel’s accusation. “We strongly reject this accusation… the security of the Persian Gulf is extremely important for Iran,” Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said on Monday.
Last week’s blast left two holes in the hull of the cargo ship MV Helios Ray and did not disable the vessel or cause any injuries to the crew. Netanyahu was not the first Israeli official to blame Iran. On Sunday, IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi pinned the incident on Iran. Kochavi also provided no evidence for the claim.