On Monday, Israel’s Defense Minister Benny Gantz threatened Iran and said Israel must take action against the Islamic Republic “right now” over last week’s drone attack on an Israeli-operated ship near Oman. Israel, the US, and the UK have blamed Tehran, but Iran denies the accusation, calling the allegations “baseless.”
“Iran’s aggression in the region generally and on the maritime front, in particular, is intensifying,” Gantz during a plenary session of Israel’s Knesset. “This is the exact reason that we must act right now against Iran.”
He said that when Iranian President-elect Ebrahim Raisi comes into office Iran, will be “more dangerous to the world than it has been so far.” Raisi will replace Hassan Rouhani as president this week. “We will act to remove any such threat,” Gantz said.
While it was more toned down, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken also threatened action against Iran. “We are working with our partners to consider our next steps and consulting with governments inside the region and beyond on an appropriate response, which will be forthcoming,” Blinken said on Sunday.
Neither the US nor Israel have offered any evidence to back up the accusation against Iran. “If they have any evidence to support their baseless claims they should provide them,” Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said in response to the US and UK backing up Israel’s narrative. He also said Iran would “decisively respond to any possible adventurism.”
The attack on the Japanese-owned tanker Mercer Street, which is managed by a company owned by Israeli billionaire Eyal Ofer, killed two crew members; a Romanian and a British national. Both Romania and the UK have summoned Iranian ambassadors over the attack.
Attacks on commercial shipping are common in the region, and Israel has been behind several attacks on Iranian ships. In March, The Wall Street Journal reported that Israel had attacked at least a dozen ships that were either Iranian or carrying Iranian fuel since 2019.
Israel has also carried out covert attacks inside Iran over the past year, including the assassination of Iranian scientist Mohsen Fakrizadeh. Israel doesn’t officially take credit for these attacks, but it’s no secret who was behind them, and Israeli intelligence officials have all but admitted it in comments to the press.