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Israel-linked ship hit in drone attack docks in UAE

Liberian-flagged Mercer Street reaches its mooring, days after deadly strike kills 2 crew members

A child rides a swing as the Israeli-linked Japanese-owned tanker MT Mercer Street is seen off the port of the Gulf Emirate of Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates on  August 3, 2021 (Karim SAHIB / AFP)
A child rides a swing as the Israeli-linked Japanese-owned tanker MT Mercer Street is seen off the port of the Gulf Emirate of Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates on August 3, 2021 (Karim SAHIB / AFP)

An Israeli-linked vessel that was attacked off Oman last week anchored off the United Arab Emirates Tuesday amid accusations Iran was behind the attack in which two crew members were killed.

Low visibility due to high humidity made it difficult to see the vessel in its mooring in the Gulf of Oman off the eastern coast of the UAE, an AFP correspondent reported.

Tracking service MarineTraffic said the Liberian-flagged vessel reached its mooring at 2:47 a.m. (2247 GMT Monday).

The UAE, which normalized ties with Israel last year, has not officially commented on the tanker incident.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said Tuesday that his government was “working on enlisting the world” in response to the attack but warned “we also know how to act alone.”

“The Iranians need to understand that it is impossible to sit peacefully in Tehran and from there ignite the entire Middle East. That is over,” he said.

Tug boats are moored next to the Israeli-managed tanker MT Mercer Street, off the Fujayrah port in the United Arab Emirates, on August 3, 2021. (Karim Sahib/AFP)

The US, UK and Israel have blamed Iran for the attack on the ship, managed by a company owned by prominent Israeli billionaire Eyal Ofer, as it sailed off Oman.

Tehran denied the accusation and warned against “adventurism.”

A British security guard and a Romanian crew member were killed in what analysts said bore all the hallmarks of the “shadow war” between Iran and Israel, which has included attacks on shipping in waters around the Gulf.

On Monday, Washington promised to lead a “collective response” against Tehran, with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken calling the MT Mercer Street incident “a direct threat to freedom of navigation and commerce.”

Britain summoned the Iranian ambassador and demanded that vessels navigate freely in the oil-rich region.

Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh, meanwhile, said that Israel “must stop such baseless accusations” and called on the US and Britain to provide evidence to support their claims.

Iran “will not hesitate to protect its security and national interests, and will immediately and decisively respond to any possible adventurism,” Khatibzadeh said.

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