Iranian drone footage showing an Israeli-owned cargo ship after it was struck by a mysterious explosion was published by the al-Mayadeen news channel Sunday.
The MV Helios car-carrier suffered damage on February 26 when holes were blown into its hull as it sailed in the Persian Gulf. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blamed Iran, saying it deliberately targeted the Bahamas-registered vessel. Iran swiftly denied the charge.
In a short clip aired by the station, an airborne camera focuses on holes in the side of the ship, just above the waterline.
An Iranian official, who provided the footage, told al-Mayadeen “elements from inside the ship itself caused these holes” as a deception.
The official, who was not named in the report, said that Iran had “no reason to carry out an operation against an Israeli cargo ship, especially in the weeks before the elections,” referring to Israel’s approaching March 23 vote.
He accused Netanyahu of creating a security situation due to the “fragile electoral situation” and in order to continue implementing the policies of the previous US administration under Donald Trump.
“Netanyahu’s claim that Iran targeted the ship on the eve of the Israeli elections raises suspicions,” the official said. He suggested Israel is worried about regional changes under the new Biden administration in the White House and as a result of what he described as “the decline” of Saudi Arabia’s power.
The explosion reportedly punched two holes in the vessel’s port side and two on its starboard side, just above the waterline. The incident recalled the summer of 2019, when the US military blamed Iran for a series of suspected attacks on oil tankers in the Persian Gulf. The Navy had alleged that Iran used limpet mines — designed to be attached magnetically to a ship’s hull — to strike some of the vessels. Iran denied any role in the suspected assaults.
Tensions between Iran and the West have escalated in recent weeks as Iran accelerates its nuclear program, seeking to pressure the United States to grant sanctions relief it received under its tattered 2015 nuclear deal with world powers. In the current standoff, each side is insisting the other move first to return to the deal, which Trump abandoned nearly three years ago.