Iran denies attacking ship
TEHRAN: Iran’s foreign ministry yesterday “strongly” rejected accusations by Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Tehran was behind a recent attack on an Israeli-owned ship in the Gulf of Oman. “It is indeed an Iranian act, that’s clear,” Netanyahu told Israel’s public broadcaster Kan. “We strongly deny this accusation,” spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said, adding that “the source of this accusation itself shows how invalid (the claim) is.”
JERUSALEM: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday accused Iran of a recent attack on an Israeli-owned ship, noting his country was regularly “striking” its arch-foe in comments that followed an overnight raid on Syria. Iran has denied any role in the explosion last Thursday that hit the MV Helios Ray in the Gulf of Oman, leaving two holes in its side but causing no casualties.
The latest escalation between the sides came as the international community has been trying to salvage the troubled 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. “It is indeed an Iranian act, that’s clear,” Netanyahu told public broadcaster Kan. “As for a reaction-you know my policy,” he continued. “Iran is Israel’s greatest enemy, I’m determined to block it, we’re striking at it throughout the region.”
Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh responded swiftly to dismiss Netanyahu’s claims. “We strongly deny this accusation,” Khatibzadeh told reporters, adding that “the source of this accusation itself shows how invalid (the claim) is.”
Netanyahu’s remarks came hours after Syrian air defenses intercepted what they said were Israeli missiles over Damascus. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor, said the strike hit the area of Sayyida Zeinab south of Damascus, where Iranian Revolutionary Guards and Lebanese Hezbollah forces are reported to be present.
There was no immediate report of casualties. The Israeli army refused to confirm its involvement in the attack. It was not clear what caused the blast on the Helios Ray, a vehicle carrier travelling from the Saudi port of Dammam to Singapore, which punctured the boat’s hull but did not cause any casualties among the crew or damage to the engine. Israel has long accused Iran of trying to acquire nuclear weapons, a charge always denied by Tehran. —AFP