Suspected ‘kamikaze drone’ attack on an Israeli-linked tanker that killed 2 was retaliation for Israel’s bombing of Syria, says Iranian TV

Warships in the Arabian Sea.
Tensions are rising in the Arabian Sea. US Navy via AP
  • A British and Romanian were killed in an attack on an Israeli-linked oil tanker in the Gulf.
  • Israel has accused Iran of carrying out the attack and said a strong response is needed.
  • An Iran TV station, linked to the government, said the attack was retaliation for Israeli raids in Syria.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A British and Romanian citizen was killed in an attack on the Israeli-owned Mercer Street crew oil tanker off Oman’s coast on Thursday.

Israel has accused Iran of carrying out the attack, with Foreign Minister Yair Lapid calling it “Iranian terrorism” that warranted a strong response.

The petroleum product tanker is operated by London-based company Zodiac Maritime, owned by Israeli shipping magnate Eyal Ofer.

Zodiac Maritime described the attack as “suspected piracy.”

On Friday, Iranian government Arabic-language television network Al Alam TV said the attack was in “response to a recent Israeli attack on Al-Dabaa airport in the Al-Qusayr region in Syria,” which it attributed to “well-informed sources” in the region.

Iran has not officially responded to the accusations that it is responsible for the attack.

‘Israel will find it hard to turn a blind eye’

According to Israeli news website Ynet, there were two attacks on the ship within a few hours, and it was the second one that hit the bridge and killed the two victims.

A private maritime intelligence firm Dryad Global referred to a drone sighting involving the vessel before the attack, reported Al-Jazeera.

“The incident in the Gulf of Oman was apparently carried out by a kind of kamikaze drone,” wrote Seth J. Frantzman, Senior Middle East Correspondent and Middle East affairs analyst at the Jerusalem Post.

“Pro-Iran forces have used drones to attack US forces in Iraq, and Tehran has trafficked drones and drone technology to the Houthis in Yemen, Hamas, Hezbollah, and Iraqi militias,” added Frantzman.

A US official, speaking anonymously, told the Associated Press said the attack appeared to have been carried out by a “one-way drone.”

The Mercer Street is a Liberian-flagged, Japanese-owned ship, and the incident occurred about 152 nautical miles (280 km) northeast of the Omani port of Duqm, outside Omani territorial waters, according to the Oman Maritime Security Center.

“Iran is not just an Israeli problem, but an exporter of terrorism, destruction, and instability that harms us all. The world must not be silent in the face of Iranian terrorism that also harms freedom of shipping,” Lapid said in a statement.

He has reportedly told UK foreign secretary Dominic Raab that a tough response is needed.

Tensions in the Gulf have been rising in recent months, with Iran and Israel repeatedly accusing each other of attacking ships. The latest incident is seen as a significant escalation.

“Israel will find it hard to turn a blind eye,” an unnamed Israeli official reportedly said.

The Mercer Street has now been escorted to a safe location by the US Navy.

U.S. State Department deputy spokeswoman Jalina Porter said that Washington was “deeply concerned by the reports and closely monitoring the situation.”