Iran Attacked Oil Tanker Operated by Israeli-Owned Company in Persian Gulf, Benjamin Netanyahu Says

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that arch enemy Iran attacked on an oil tanker in the Persian Gulf last week.

"Last week Iran again attacked an oil tanker in the Persian Gulf and harmed the international freedom of navigation," Netanyahu said.

Liberian-flagged Ship

It was reported earlier that a Liberian-flagged ship had come under attack in the Persian Gulf. The ship was operated by Zodiac Maritime Ltd., a company owned by Israeli billionaire Eyal Ofer. A Greek shipping services company called Eletson, which was managing the ship, confirmed the attack took place.

Malaysian oil tanker carrying arrying 900,000 litres of diesel 'hijacked off Malaysia'
Oil tanker Reuters (Representational Image)

The ship suffered only minor damage and the crew were unharmed. "We can confirm that both the vessel and crew are safe ... There is minor damage to the vessel," the shipping services company said.

The incident happened in the Arabian Sea, approximately 300 nautical miles off the coasts of India and Oman. The oil tanker was reportedly hit by an airborne object.

Meanwhile, British maritime security company Ambrey Intelligence said unmanned aerial systems were used in the attack. According to its assessment, Iran was behind the attack. Two of the merchant vessels were Israeli-owned and one was Emirati, the company said, according to Reuters.

Israeli Air Strikes Target Iranian Installations in Syria

Significantly, Netanyahu's claim came on the day when Israeli airstrikes inside Syrian capital Damascus killed at least five people. The attack happened after the midnight, when loud explosions were reported from a residential area in the capital city. SANA said the air defenses were confronting hostile targets in the sky around Damascus.

An oil tanker unloads crude oil at a crude oil terminal in Zhoushan, Zhejiang province, China July 4, 2018. Picture taken July 4, 2018.
An oil tanker unloads crude oil at a crude oil terminal in Zhoushan, Zhejiang province, China July 4, 2018. Picture taken July 4, 2018. REUTERS/Stringer

The Israeli air strikes targeted a heavily guarded security complex in central Damascus's Kafr Sousa neighborhood. It adds that the Israeli forces targeted buildings in an area that hosts Iranian installations.

Israel has been monitoring the expansion of Iranian footprint in coastal Syria, which are seen as long-term threat to the Jewish state.

Iran has been stepping up its presence and influence inside Syria for years and this process got a boost in the aftermath of the Syrian civil war that started in 2012. Iranian militias and paramilitary groups have built up sizeable presence around the capital Damascus, as well as on the southern coastal regions closer to Israel. Responding to the threat Israel has been on high alert, targeting and taking down key Iranian installations in the region including capital Damascus.