Netanyahu Blames Iran for Explosion That Damaged Israeli-Owned Ship in the Gulf of Oman

An Israeli-owned ship hit by an explosion in the strategic Gulf of Oman waterway is seen after arrival at a port in Dubai, United Arab Emirates February 28, 2021. REUTERS/Abdel Hadi Ramahi

Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has blamed Iran for an explosion that damaged an Israeli-owned ship in the Gulf of Oman last week.

The MV Helios Ray, a vehicle carrier, was travelling from Saudi Arabia to Singapore when an explosion reportedly ripped holes in both sides of its hull.

“This was indeed an operation by Iran. That is clear,” Mr Netanyahu told Kan Radio, without providing any evidence.

Iran’s foreign ministry said it strongly rejected the accusation.

Mr Netanyahu’s remarks were broadcast hours after a monitoring group reported that Israeli missile strikes had targeted Iranian forces in Syria.

It is not yet clear what caused the explosion that damaged the Helios Ray on Thursday night. But the ship’s owner, Rami Ungar, said that it left two holes in the hull about 1.5m (4.9ft) in diameter, just above the waterline.

Yoav Galant, an Israeli cabinet minister, told Ynet TV that photographs of the hull suggested the damage was the result of “a mine affixed to the exterior, apparently in a night-time navy commando operation”.

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