TEHRAN -- Iran said on Sunday it was not involved in an attack on an Israeli-managed petroleum product tanker off the coast of Oman, referring to an incident last week that killed two and which the occupying regime blamed on the Islamic Republic.
The Zionist regime’s extremist premier Naftali Bennett accused Tehran of “trying to shirk responsibility” for Thursday’s incident.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh told a weekly news conference that the “Zionist regime has created insecurity, terror and violence...These accusations about Iran’s involvement are condemned by Tehran.”
“Such accusations are meant by Israel to divert attention from facts and are baseless,” Khatibzadeh said.
A Briton and a Romanian were reportedly killed when the Mercer Street, a Liberian-flagged, Japanese-owned ship managed by Zionist-owned Zodiac Maritime was attacked- apparently by a drone, a U.S. defense official said, though conclusive evidence was still needed.
Speaking during a weekly meeting of his cabinet on Sunday, Bennett said: “I declare unequivocally: Iran is the one that carried out the attack on the ship.”
There were varying explanations for what happened to the tanker. Zodiac Maritime described the incident as “suspected piracy” and a source at the Oman Maritime Security Center as an accident that occurred outside Omani territorial waters.
The incident marked the first-known fatal attack after years of assaults on commercial shipping in the region linked to the occupying regime of Israel.
Khatibzadeh said, “It’s not the first time that the Zionist regime occupying Al-Quds has made such empty accusations against the Islamic Republic of Iran.”
“Wherever this regime has gone, it has taken instability, terror and violence with it,” he said. “Whoever sows the wind shall reap the whirlwind.”
The American nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan and the guided missile destroyer USS Mitscher were escorting the Mercer Street as it headed to a safe port, the U.S. Navy’s Mideast-based 5th Fleet said in a statement early Saturday. It said Navy explosive experts believe a drone attacked the vessel.
The drone attack blasted a hole through the top of the oil tanker’s bridge, where the captain and crew command the vessel, a U.S. official said.
Informed sources told Al-Alam television Saturday that the attack was in response to an Israeli missile attack on Syria that killed two resistance forces.
Early last month, a fire broke out on an Israeli-owned cargo ship after it was struck by an “unidentified weapon” in the northern Indian Ocean.
Back in February, an Israeli-owned ship was hit by an explosion in the sea of Oman. In April, another Israeli ship came under attack off the coast of the UAE.
The attacks come against a backdrop of the Zionist regime’s various assaults on cargo ships across the Persian Gulf region and elsewhere.
A Palestinian-American journalist said the recent retaliatory attack shows that the resistance front is in possession of resources and the technology capable of exposing the occupying regime of Israel’s vulnerability.
“Most of the information available regarding this incident comes from Israeli and American sources; the confirmation that drones have been used to attack the ship came specifically from the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet,” Ramzy Baroud, an internationally syndicated columnist and the founder of PalestineChronicle.com, told Press TV.
“Since no independent and trustworthy sources have confirmed - or denied - the sequence of events that led to the attack on the Mercer Street, we cannot discuss the event with total trust and reliance on Israeli and U.S. sources,” he added.
The journalist said that the possible use of drones in the attack against the tanker vessel was indicative of “advanced surveillance and intelligence.”
Baroud underlined that regardless of the possibility of an Israeli response, it seems that the “rules of the game have indeed changed and not in favor of Israel.”
“This is a game changer. Since Israel began its normalization with Arab countries in that region, the understanding was that Israel has gained a geostrategic position vis-a-vis its attempt at isolating and targeting Iran,” Baroud said. “Indeed, the Israeli regime and media were buying into this fantasy that the rules of the game have changed in favor of Israel.”
Baroud went on to say that if the resistance front proves to be responsible for the attack on the Mercer Street, it means that it is willing to take serious measures to remind the occupying regime that it must not be comfortable with the supposed status quo and that the outcome of the geostrategic conflict is yet to be determined.
Baroud said the attack was a warning to Tel Aviv that it would be held accountable for its aggression against resisting forces in the region, and that “Israel’s enemies have the resources and the technology that can expose Israel’s vulnerability in the region.”