Gantz Calls for International Action Against Iran After Deadly Ship Attack
Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz called the recent deadly drone attack on the Mercer Street vessel, which resulted in the deaths of two innocent civilians, a “clear violation of international law,” calling upon the international community to take action.
“It is immoral and it constitutes an escalation. This is exactly why we must act now against Iran,” Gantz said Monday. “Iran not only strives to gain nuclear capabilities, but it is also sparking a dangerous arms race and sowing instability in the Middle East via terrorist militias armed with hundreds of UAVs, in Iran, Yemen, Iraq and other countries.”
“Israel has a variety of tools and options to protect its citizens, and we will contend with anyone who threatens to hurt us, at the time and place and in the ways that benefit the security of the State of Israel,” he continued.
Israel, the US and Britain have blamed Iran for the Thursday drone attack off the coast of Oman on the Israeli-managed tanker Mercer Street, which killed two crew members — a Briton and a Romanian. Tehran has denied any involvement in the incident.
“This is not just an Israeli matter, the whole world sees the results of Iran’s aggression and must take action. Any agreement with Iran must also address its aggression in the region and its harm both to innocent people and to the global economy,” Gantz emphasized, warning that hundreds of Iranian UAVs are spread across the Middle East.
“Iranian aggression in the region, and in the naval arena in particular, is worsening. In the past year there have been no less than five Iranian hits on international ships, some using UAVs made by Iranian military industries. Iranian UAVs have also been employed to attack Saudi Arabian oil facilities,” he added.
Commenting on the attack, Maj. Gen. (res.) Amos Yadlin emphasized on Monday that the tanker was not itself owned by an Israeli company. Yadlin, a former IDF chief of military intelligence, argued that Iran “shot itself in the foot” by hitting a British-owned Japanese civilian ship, killing two European civilians.
“It is not an Israeli tanker, not even a British tanker. It is a Japanese-owned ship flying the Liberian flag, operated by a company based in Britain and the owner is an Israeli billionaire,” Yadlin said. “It was not Israel that was attacked, it was Japan, it was Great Britain. It is a civilian target. It is not a military target. It showed the world that Iran is a terrible state.”
Yadlin remarked that until now maritime attacks took place without any fatalities, intended mostly for signaling or sending a message.
“It is not a secret that between Israel and Iran there is a covert shadow campaign, a war; it is not a full-scale war with all the national capabilities [or] powers but both sides are attacking each other,” Yadlin said. “This time Iranians figured out that maybe they overshot their reaction, and now they deny it.”
“If during the weekend it seemed like we were approaching escalation, my assessment today is the contrary, that the Iranians understood that they have made a mistake, and that they will try to downgrade the tension,” he continued, pointing to Thursday’s upcoming inauguration of Iran’s president-elect Ebrahim Raisi, and the stalled talks with Western powers over reentering the 2015 nuclear deal.
Meanwhile, Israel’s Gantz warned that under the hardliner Raisi, Iran will be “more dangerous to the world than it has been so far, more destructive to the region than it has been so far, and will strive to become an existential threat to Israel.”