Report: Israel Has Attacked a Dozen Oil Tankers Since 2019

Sources told The Wall Street Journal that the US provided 'tacit' support for these attacks during the Trump administration

According to a report from The Wall Street Journal, Israel has attacked at least a dozen ships in the Middle East that were bound for Syria.

The report cited anonymous US and “regional” officials and said the attacks started in late 2019 and mostly targeted Iranian vessels or ships carrying Iranian oil while transiting the Red Sea and other parts of the region. One source said that US officials “provided tacit US support during the Trump administration for such attacks.”

Sources described as Iranian “shipping professionals” detailed the number of incidents. In 2019, three ships carrying Iranian oil were attacked. In 2020, six ships used by Iran were targeted.

The report said an attack occurred as recently as last month when Israeli operatives attached a limpet mine to a ship anchored off Lebanon that was carrying Iranian oil. Limpet mines are a type of magnetic bomb that is attached to the hull of the targeted vessel.

The US blamed Iran for two alleged limpet mine attacks in the region in 2019. In one incident, in June 2019, a Japanese ship was targeted in the Gulf of Oman. The US presented what it claimed was the debris from the limpet mine used in the attack as evidence that Iran was responsible. Tehran maintained that the Islamic Republic had nothing to do with the attack.

One of the shipping professionals told the Journal that Iran was trying to keep the attacks on their vessels quiet. “We are trying to keep a low profile,” he said. “It would look like a sign of weakness” if Iran complained and failed to react with a military response, the professional said.

Like most of Israel’s covert operations against Iran, Israeli officials have not commented on these attacks. But Israel continues to blame Iran for similar incidents. Israel blamed Iran for a February 25th explosion that hit an Israeli-owned oil tanker in the Gulf of Oman, an accusation Iran has denied.

Author: Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the news editor of, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.