Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz stepped up his threats against Iran on Thursday and said Israel is ready to attack the Islamic Republic.
Israel has blamed Iran for last week’s drone attack on a Japanese-owned Israeli-linked ship near Oman that killed a British crewmember and a Romanian crewmember, but Tehran strongly denies that it was responsible.
When asked in an interview with YNet if Israel was prepared to attack Iran, Gantz replied, “Yes.” The Israeli defense minister is urging other countries to take action against the Islamic Republic. “We are at a point where we need to take military action against Iran,” he said. “The world needs to take action against Iran now.”
Responding to Gantz’s threat, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said Israel’s behavior is only possible through Western support. Khatibzadeh wrote on Twitter: “In another brazen violation of Int’l law, Israeli regime now blatantly threatens #Iran with military action. Such malign behavior stems from blind Western support.” He added that any Israeli attacks would be met with a “decisive response.”
The US has accepted Israel’s narrative and is blaming Iran for the tanker attack. On Sunday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the US was working with allies on a response. “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,” he said.
Britain will raise the tanker attack at a UN Security Council meeting on Friday, but the body is not expected to agree to take action. The UK told the Security Council on Tuesday that it is “highly likely” Iran was behind the incident, leaving room for doubt and suggesting Israel’s evidence it claims to have is not clear-cut.
Russia has raised doubts about the claims. “There’s a lot of conflicting information. A ‘highly likely’ analysis, which we totally reject. We need to establish facts … we don’t need to rush to any conclusions or actions without having proof of what has happened,” deputy Russian UN Ambassador Dmitry Polyanskiy said on Wednesday.
Israel has a long history of attacking Iran covertly, including by sabotaging 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. Iran has brought up these incidents when defending itself, accusing the West of hypocrisy for never condemning Israel’s attacks on commercial shipping in the region.
There have also been reported drone attacks against Iranian ships. In April, an Iranian fuel tanker was reported to be attacked by either a drone or a missile off the coast of Syria that killed three Syrians, including two crew members, according to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.