A merchant ship formerly owned by an Israeli-led company was attacked in the Indian Ocean on Saturday in what appeared to be the latest retaliation in a mysterious regional conflict between Israel and Iran.
An Israeli national security official, speaking on Reuters, said the ship, which was until recently owned by Zodiac Maritime, a London-based company led by Israeli billionaire Eyal Ofer, had been attacked by an Iranian drone or commando. Freely on condition of anonymity to discuss national security matters. The official said the ship sustained minor damage. There were no injuries.
The ship was recently seized by another company unrelated to Israel, according to a person familiar with the ship’s history.
The attack on the ship, which was bound from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, to the port of Jebel Ali in the United Arab Emirates came as the United States and Iran were working to revive their 2015 nuclear deal, an effort by Israel. The government opposed.
As happened about ten days after the announcement of the Iranian Atomic Energy Agency An attack on one of its facilities thwarted. But satellite imagery of the site which was revealed on Saturday It showed that she had suffered severe damage.
Israel remained silent about this attack. But the site, one of Iran’s main manufacturing hubs for producing centrifuges, was on the list of targets that Israel presented to the Trump administration early last year.
Iran did not officially take responsibility for Saturday’s naval attack, but media organizations in Iran and media in the greater Middle East sympathetic to Iran have widely reported on the attack.
In an apparent reference to the attack, the Telegram channel operated by the Quds Force of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, the foreign-facing branch of the country’s powerful security apparatus, posted an old photo of a ship on fire.
Israel and Iran have been fighting each other, often through proxies, in many countries across the Middle East, by land and air, for years, but the adversaries have recently opened a new front in their conflict, on the high seas.
Since 2019, Israel has been attacking ships carrying Iranian oil and weapons through the eastern Mediterranean and the Red Sea.
Iran has engaged in naval attacks of its own. In March and April, Israeli-owned ships came under Iranian fire, according to Israeli officials.
The Israeli national security official said Saturday’s attack was believed to have resulted from a miscalculation by Iran, which he said may have been in possession of faulty intelligence regarding the ownership of the CSAV Tyndall.
The Israeli-led Zodiac Maritime confirmed in a statement that it no longer owns the ship. A UN International Maritime Organization database showed that CSAV Tyndall is now owned by another London-based company, called Polar 5 LTD.
Since ships with ties to Israel began coming under fire in March and April, the United States has provided escorts to Israeli ships in the Persian Gulf and nearby areas, issuing warnings about Iranian intentions to attack them, according to American and Israeli intelligence officials.
An intelligence official said the latest warning of a possible Iranian attack, came from the US intelligence community, on May 31, the same day David Barnea, the new head of Israel’s Mossad, took office.
Farnaz Fassihi contributed to this report.