The day after US military air strikes against “Iranian-backed militias” in Syria, an Israeli cargo ship suffered “unexplained explosions” as it transited the Gulf of Oman. Investigators are now saying the ship was hit by two missiles launched by the Iran Navy.
Israel Defense Minister Benny Gantz said on Saturday that Iran is the main suspect behind the attack.
“We will need to keep investigating, but we can say for sure that Iran is attempting to damage Israeli infrastructure and to hurt Israeli citizens,” Gantz told KAN. He noted that the ship’s proximity to Iran during the incident has strengthened the suspicions against Tehran.
The ship – Helios Highway – usually used as a vehicle carrier, was sailing to Singapore from Saudi Arabia when the explosion occurred. It was then diverted to a port in Dubai to assess the damage.
The ship’s crew was reported in good condition and there were no known injuries. The vessel continued under its own power to Dubai.
Several assessments have pointed to possible causes for the explosion. According to early estimations made by the United Kingdom Marine Trade Operations (UKMTO), the explosion was most likely the result of a maritime mine being triggered.
However, a US defense official later told Reuters that the ship was hit by a blast above the water line that ripped holes in both sides of its hull. If correct, this would mean that it is highly unlikely that the damage was caused by an anti-ship mine.
According to Intelligence sources, the holes in the hull are consistent with a Missile entering one side of the vessel, with debris from the impact exiting the other side. Here are photos from inside the stricken vessel:
The US Navy’s Bahrain-based Fifth Fleet said it was aware of the incident and was monitoring the situation.
One military intelligence source declared bluntly “If forensic evidence conclusively shows this to have been an Iranian Navy missile, things between Israel and Iran will utterly explode very quickly.” (Click to Source)