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Attack on oil tanker signals escalating “tanker war” between Iran and Israel

Attack on oil tanker signals escalating “tanker war” between Iran and Israel (Photo: The Times of Israel)

The Iran-Israel rivalry in the western Indian Ocean appears to be escalating following an attack on an Israel-managed  commercial ship not far from Duqm island in Oman.

Two crew members of the ship managed by Zodiac Maritime, the U.K.-based company owned by Israel’s Ofer family were killed, Associated Press is reporting.

The Israeli-operated MERCER STREET was attacked near Oman July 29, 2021

The London-based Zodiac said on its website Japanese owned ship, Mercer Street, was attacked about 152 nautical miles (280 km) northeast of the Omani port of Duqm, Reuters is reporting. 

Two crew killed in attack on Israeli-managed tanker off Oman

The news agency citing Eikon's ship tracking said that the Mercer Street, a medium-size tanker, was headed towards Fujairah– a bunkering port and oil terminal in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The ship was coming from  Dar es Salaam, in Tanzania along the east African coast.

The Iran-Israel rivalry has sharpened following recent signs that Tehran, backed by the Biden administration,  could be re-accommodated into the international mainstream following the revival of an updated Iran nuclear deal. Besides, Iran is uncomfortable with Israel’s moves to acquire a niche in the Persian Gulf after opening embassies in the UAE, Oman and Bahrain following the Abraham accords.

The latest incident is part of a  mini “tanker war” between Tel Aviv and Tehran. The Times of Israel is reporting that  a UAE bound vessel  previously owned by Ofer’s Zodiac Maritime — was struck in the northern Indian Ocean.

In recent months, Israel and Iran have accused each other of attacking merchant ships.

Also read:  Reviving the Port of Berbera: Why India and the UAE can become partners in the Western Indian Ocean

On February 26, the Israeli-owned MV Helios Ray, a Bahamian-flagged cargo ship, was attacked in the Gulf of Oman. Former Prime Minister  Benjamin Netanyahu accused Iran of attacking the ship.

hip operated by Israeli-owned company attacked near Oman amid Iran tensions

Another Israeli-owned vessel also reportedly subjected to a missile attack in the Gulf of Oman in late March. Iranian forces were suspected to carrying out the attack.

But in March, the Wall Street Journal reported that Israel had targeted with mines and other weapons, at least 12 ships bound for Syria ferrying oil from Iran.