Israeli ship hit by internal blast, not Iranian attack – Hezbollah media

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The Hezbollah-affiliated Al-Mayadeen news released a video on Monday allegedly showing that the Israeli vessel reportedly targeted by an Iranian attack in the Gulf of Oman last month was damaged by an internal explosion.

The footage was allegedly recorded by an Iranian drone. Al-Mayadeen claimed that the footage proved that the holes in the hull of the vessel were caused by explosions from within the ship, not from outside. An Iranian official told Al-Mayadeen that the timing was also not good for an operation against an Israeli cargo ship, saying “there is no reason to carry out an operation against an Israeli cargo ship, especially in the weeks before the elections.”

“[Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu’s claim that Iran targeted the ship on the eve of the Israeli elections raises suspicions,” added the unnamed official as, “[US President Joe] Biden’s arrival to power and the decline of [Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed] Bin Salman’s power raised the fears of the Zionist entity.”

The official claimed that the vessel was first monitored in the area in March of last year and docked in Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, according to Al-Mayadeen.

An analyst for Al-Mayadeen additionally stressed that “Iran could have targeted the Israeli ship in the Gulf of Oman since the first moment it monitored it in March of last year.”

The vehicle-carrier ship MV Helios Ray was hit in late February by a blast above the water line that a US official said ripped holes in both sides of its hull. An Israeli official said limpet mines were used.

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While Netanyahu blamed Iran for the attack, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh denied the claim, stating that “the origin of this accusation shows how baseless it is.”

“The prime minister of the Zionist regime is suffering from a mental illness. This regime knows that in our security sphere, our response has been accurate and firm,” said the spokesman at the time.

A senior security official told Walla! news that the attack on the Israeli-owned vessel was carried out in response to a covert operation by Israel and not in response to the assassinations of former Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps commander Qasem Soleimani and Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh.

Last week, an analysis in the Iranian-regime controlled Kayhan daily, whose editor-in-chief is appointed by Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, referred to the attack on the Israeli vessel as a response to strikes on Iranian and pro-Iranian forces in Syria and Iraq.

The analysis stated that there is “no trace” of the identity of the attackers and claimed that the vessel was flown under the flag of another country. The paper additionally claimed that the ship was a military vessel spying in the Persian Gulf and not a commercial vessel.

The analysis concluded that the ship was “probably ambushed by one of the branches of the axis of resistance,” but did not go as far as explicitly stating that Iran or one of its proxies was responsible for the incident.

Reuters, Lahav Harkov and Sarah Chemla contributed to this report.