Iran “strongly rejects” the Israeli Prime Minister’s allegations regarding last week’s mysterious explosion on the MV Helios Ray in the Gulf of Oman.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused Iran of being behind last week’s explosion against an Israeli ship in the Gulf of Oman days after Israeli officials, including the defense minister , pointed to Tehran.
Netanyahu made the accusation in an interview aired Monday with Israeli public broadcaster Kan – but provided no evidence to support his claims.
The MV Helios Ray, a vehicle carrier, was hit overnight Friday by an explosion above the waterline which a US official said tore holes on both sides of its hull. The ship docked at the port of Dubai for repairs on Sunday. It is still not clear what caused the explosion.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz said on Saturday that an initial assessment found Iran to be responsible for the blast, while the Israeli ambassador to the United States and the United Nations appeared to blame Tehran for the blast, which rekindled security concerns in the region.
Israeli defense officials traveled to Dubai to investigate the incident, the Haaretz newspaper reported.
Israel’s hawkish prime minister, who seeks re-election in the country’s fourth election within two years, has dodged the question of whether Israel will retaliate.
When asked if Israel would retaliate, Netanyahu, a staunch critic of Tehran’s nuclear program, repeated previous statements about his determination to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.
“Iran is Israel’s greatest enemy, I am determined to put an end to it. We are hitting it all over the region, ”the Israeli Prime Minister said.
Kan said the interview was taped on Sunday evening, before Syria accused Israel of carrying out missile attacks around southern Damascus.
Israeli media said the alleged airstrikes targeted Iranian targets in response to the attack on the ship.
The Israeli military declined to comment.
Israel has struck hundreds of Iranian targets in Syria in recent years, and Netanyahu has repeatedly stated that Israel will not accept a permanent Iranian military presence in its neighbor.
Iran rejects allegation
Iran’s foreign ministry “strongly rejected” Netanyahu’s claim and said his recent remarks stemmed from his “obsessive” behavior towards the country.
“The source of these allegations itself lacks credibility the most,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said Monday at a press conference in Tehran.
He said Iran viewed recent Israeli actions in the region as “suspect” and reserved the right to respond decisively.
Khatibzadeh also reiterated Iran’s position that it has never sought and will never seek nuclear weapons.
Previously, the radical Iranian daily Kayhan had alleged that Helios Ray was “possibly” on a “spy” mission in the region, without offering any evidence to support this claim.
Iran has also accused Israel of a recent series of attacks, including a mysterious explosion last summer that destroyed a state-of-the-art centrifuge assembly plant at its Natanz nuclear facility and the murder of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, a top Iranian scientist who founded the country’s military nuclear program for 20 years. since.
Tehran has repeatedly promised to avenge the murder of Fakhrizadeh.
Threats of Iranian retaliation have raised alarm bells in Israel following the country’s normalization agreements with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.