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Israel seeks UN condemnation of Iran for suicide drone attack on ship

Iran denies involvement, but Prime Minister Bennett says Israel has evidence Iran "made a serious mistake"

Israeli-operated tanker Mercer Street attacked by Iranian drones, July 31, 2021 (Photo: screenshot)

Israel is asking the United Nations Security Council to issue a condemnation against Iran for Friday’s terror attack on an Israeli-managed tanker, Mercer Street, off the coast of Oman. 

The Israeli government said Iranian drones carried out the attack which killed the ship’s Romanian captain and a British crew member.

While Israeli and Iranian ships in the region have both been sporadically attacked in the past few months, these are the first fatalities in the ongoing maritime confrontation between Iran and the Jewish state. 

Iran has officially denied responsibility for the attack, but Iranian TV reported that the suspected “kamikaze drone” attack on the Israeli-managed ship was Tehran’s retaliation for Israel’s suspected bombing of Iranian-affiliated targets in Syria. 

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said that Israel has evidence that Iran is behind the attack and that even if the international community does not condemn the Islamic regime, “Israel knows how to send a message to Iran in our own way.”

“Iran carried out the attack against the ship. Iran's thuggishness endangers not only Israel, but also harms global interests, namely freedom of navigation and international trade,” Bennett said. “The intelligence evidence for this exists and we expect the international community will make it clear to the Iranian regime that they have made a serious mistake.”

According to a diplomatic source, Jerusalem is reportedly “working with other countries, especially Britain and the United States, and more to advance the Security Council’s discussion on this serious terrorist act by Iran that joins its other actions that call into question and endanger all maritime security and free trade.”

Gilad Erdan, Israel’s Ambassador to the UN and the U.S. is reportedly in the process of sending an official letter of complaint to the Security Council, requesting a meeting and issuing a condemnation on the lethal maritime attack. In addition, Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid has instructed the Israeli embassies in Washington and London to discuss and coordinate a diplomatic response at the UN with the American and British governments. 

Israel said the attack violates navigational freedom and poses a threat to international trade, which is not only a threat to the Jewish state, but constitutes a danger to world peace. 

However, the Jewish state is facing diplomatic challenges. The UN is a forum that typically condemns Israel and works against Jerusalem’s interests. In addition, other governments – including the U.S. – are reportedly not certain that the Iranian regime was indeed behind the maritime attack. 

Unlike the late Iraqi despot Saddam Hussein who openly attacked neighboring Kuwait and took credit for firing 39 Scud missiles at Israel, the ayatollah regime usually prefers covert attacks, often outsourced to its proxy groups such as Hezbollah in Lebanon or the Houthis in Yemen. This strategy serves the Tehran regime well and enables it to coordinate numerous terrorist attacks, which are hard to link directly to Iran. 

After speaking to the U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Saturday, Lapid tweeted: “We are working together against Iranian terrorism, which poses a threat to all of us, by formulating a real and effective international response. Iran has time and again underestimated Israel's determination to defend itself and its interests.”

Following the conversation between Lapid and Blinken, U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price issued a general statement confirming that the top U.S. and Israeli diplomats had “agreed to work with the UK, Romania, and other international partners to investigate the facts, provide support, and consider the appropriate next steps.”

European and American intelligence sources reportedly believe that Iran is indeed the prime suspect behind Friday’s lethal maritime attack. However, Washington and its European allies are still seeking to exhaust all diplomatic possibilities of reaching a nuclear agreement with Tehran. While the U.S. is increasingly skeptical about a diplomatic breakthrough with Iran, a return to the nuclear deal is still a possibility. Washington is, therefore, facing a dilemma. Should it publicly side with its ally Israel at the UN and risk an Iran deal or should it prioritize the nuclear negotiations with Tehran? 

Meanwhile, the U.S. Navy was assisting the Israeli-managed vessel by offering a naval escort to a safe location. 

The U.S. Central Command, which is responsible for its military operations in the Middle East and Central Asia, issued a statement: “U.S. Navy explosives experts are aboard to ensure there is no additional danger to the crew, and are prepared to support an investigation into the attack.”

 

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