Iran says Israel behind gas pipeline sabotage last week

Oil Minister Javad Owji tells reporters plot to attack supply lines in Safashahr and Borujen was ‘foiled’

Iran's Minister of Petroleum Eng Javad Owji arrives at the 8th OPEC International Seminar in Vienna, Austria, on July 5, 2023. (Alex HALADA / AFP)
Iran's Minister of Petroleum Eng Javad Owji arrives at the 8th OPEC International Seminar in Vienna, Austria, on July 5, 2023. (Alex HALADA / AFP)

Iran said Wednesday that Israel was behind twin sabotage attacks against gas pipelines that disrupted supplies in at least three provinces last week.

The February 14 explosions hit pipelines in the cities of Safashahr in the southern province of Fars and Borujen in the southwestern province of Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari.

Officials said at the time it was an act of “sabotage and terrorism.”

There were no reported casualties but state media said supplies were disrupted in the provinces of North Khorasan in the northeast, Lorestan in the west, and Zanjan in the northwest.

“The explosion of the country’s gas lines was the work of Israel,” Oil Minister Javad Owji told reporters after a cabinet meeting.

“The plot was foiled,” he added.

Though Owji has given previous statements to the press condemning the attacks as terrorism, it marked the first time he publicly blamed Israel.

Flames leap into the air after a natural gas pipeline explodes outside the city of Boroujen in the western Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari province, Iran, early February 14, 2024. (Reza Kamali Dehkordi/Fars News Agency via AP)

Last week The New York Times cited two Western officials and a military strategist affiliated with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as saying Israel was behind the attack.

A Western official told the Times that the strike was largely symbolic, causing minimal harm and being easy to repair, but sent a message that Israel can cause significant damage.

There has been no comment from Israel on the blasts, which came amid the ongoing war in Gaza triggered by the Hamas-led October 7 onslaught, in which Palestinian terrorists killed around 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and took 253 hostages.

Iranian leaders have denied Tehran was behind the Hamas attack but have praised the massacre and boasted of Iran’s support for the Gaza-ruling terror group and other armed proxy organizations opposed to Israel. The US also has said Iran was not directly responsible for the onslaught but that it continues to fund, arm, and train proxies who have been targeting the Jewish state.

There have been worries of a wider regional conflict since the Hamas atrocities and Israel’s subsequent offensive aimed at eliminating the terror group in Gaza and returning the hostages, with Lebanon’s Hezbollah launching daily attacks on northern Israel, the Houthi rebels in Yemen striking shipping in the Red Sea and Iranian-backed militias in Iraq and Syria targeting US forces stationed in those countries.

Since the Islamic Revolution of 1979, Iran has made the Palestinian cause a centerpiece of its foreign policy. The Islamic Republic does not recognize Israel and the two countries have engaged in a shadow war for years.

Iran accuses Israel of having carried out a wave of sabotage attacks and assassinations targeting its nuclear program.

The United States and Israel accuse Iran of supporting terror groups around the Middle East to carry out attacks on US and Israeli targets.

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