Iran- Israel relations are back in limbo once again, courtesy of fresh attacks on an Israeli ship near Oman. Container Ship Lori was hit by a missile while it was transiting in the Gulf of Oman, making its way to India.
No one was injured in the incident and the ship is continuing its journey to India at present. But this incident has further escalated the tensions between Israel and Iran which are already under turmoil after the blast on the Israeli ship MV Helios Ray, earlier on February 26.
The Liberian flagged vessel Lori was heading towards Mundra port in India from the DAR es Salaam in Tanzania back in March 21. On its way, it came under the fire of alleged Iranian missiles in the Gulf of Oman.
According to the Israeli Defense Ministry, the Haifa-based XT Management Ltd-owned vessel has incurred some light damages. However, it’s continuing its journey to India and is likely to arrive by Wednesday.
This comes at a time when both Iran and Israel are in a shadow war, accusing each other of attacks on merchant ships. Earlier last month, a Bahamian flagged Israeli cargo ship MV Helios Ray was blasted in the same region. Israel blamed Iran for the attack which they promptly declined. However, experts say that the attack on Helios Ray had the hallmarks of previous attacks by Iran.
In 2019 Iran indulged in similar attacks on tankers which were part of the Iranian campaign against shipping vessels 4 decades ago. Earlier in March, an Iranian investigator blamed Israel for attacks on an Iranian cargo ship in the Mediterranean.
According to a Wall Street Journal report, Iran had targeted 12 Syria bound ships carrying oil from Iran. A series of attacks started in late 2019 where vessels were targeted by mines and other weapons. The attacks didn’t spare Iranian ships either. Meanwhile, Iran-linked weapon shipments were targeted in the Red Sea by Israel. None of the attacks could successfully sink the tankers but they were enough to make the ships return to Iranian ports.
Reports highlighted that Israel halted the oil trade as they feared that profits from oil are financing the extremists of the region. Iran continued with its oil trade with Syria despite US sanctions on Iran and international sanctions on Syria. This marked the beginning of a new shadow war between Iran and Israel.
Iran was allegedly behind the explosion of 2 oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz back in 2019. Although Iran calls out Israel’s support for extremists groups, they themselves have supported the Hezbollah terrorist group and other extremists operating in the Gaza Strip.
In recent times, Iran’s Natanz nuclear facility centrifuge assembly was destroyed in an explosion that killed their top nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh. Mohsen was the founding father of the Iranian military’s nuclear program which started 2 decades ago. This irked Tehran and they vowed to avenge this. Iran had suspected Israel’s hands behind this blast at their nuclear facility.
Now, tension is brewing in the Middle East over Iran’s violations of US sanctions and terms of the 2015 nuclear deal. The Iranian authorities are hoping for an ease of sanctions from the new US President. So, the escalating situation ahead of the talks is a crucial development.