Netanyahu accuses Iran of recent attack on Israeli-linked tanker

PM tells cabinet meeting Israel’s efforts on ‘Iranian front’ are unceasing because Tehran’s ‘acts of aggression are unceasing’

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, center, leads a cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on February 19, 2023. (Yoav Dudkevitch/ POOL/ Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, center, leads a cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on February 19, 2023. (Yoav Dudkevitch/ POOL/ Flash90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday accused arch-foe Iran of attacking an Israeli-linked tanker earlier this month, a strike that the ship’s operator said caused “minor” damage.

“On the Iranian front, our efforts are unceasing for the simple reason that Iran’s acts of aggression are unceasing,” Netanyahu said at the start of his weekly cabinet meeting.

“Last week, Iran again attacked an oil tanker in the Persian Gulf (region) and struck at the international freedom of navigation,” he said.

On February 10, Campo Square, a Liberian-flagged product tanker, was “hit by an airborne object while in the Arabian Sea, approximately 300 nautical miles (555 kilometers) off the coasts of India and Oman,” according to Eletson, the Greek company that manages the vessel.

“Both the vessel and crew are safe and proceeding as per planned passage. There is minor damage to the vessel,” Eletson said in a statement Saturday.

A spokesman for Eletson told AFP that the Liberian company that owns Campos Square was “linked” to Zodiac Maritime, the British shipping company founded and chaired by an Israeli, Eyal Ofer.

Iran has not commented on the attack.

The Campo Square oil tanker. (YouTube screenshot/used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

Netanyahu’s remarks came hours after Syrian state media claimed that Israel had carried out an airstrike late Saturday on a residential neighborhood in Damascus, killing five people and leaving 15 others hurt.

According to the Reuters news agency, the strike targeted an area in the Kafar Sousah neighborhood in the Syrian capital, near a large and heavily guarded security complex and close to Iranian installations.

There was no comment from the Israel Defense Forces, in line with its policy of generally not commenting on air raids in the country. Israeli officials have previously said that the IDF does not target civilians and seeks to avoid damage to residential areas as much as possible.

Orient News, a Syrian opposition media outlet, claimed the strikes targeted Iranian militia officials at the so-called Iranian school in Kafar Sousah.

The scene of an alleged Israeli airstrike in the Kafar Sousah neighborhood of Syria’s capital, Damascus, early February 19, 2023. (Social media)

Separately, the Israeli jets targeted Iranian and Syrian regime military sites near the Damascus International Airport, as well as in Sitt Zaynab and al-Kiswah, a town and a city just south of the capital, Orient News said.

Israel has admitted to carrying out hundreds of strikes in Syria aimed at preventing Iran from establishing a military foothold and the transfer of advanced weapons system to the Iran-backed Hezbollah terror group in Lebanon.

Iran has been engaged in a shadow war with Israel for years, with Tehran accusing Israel of being behind a series of sabotage attacks and assassinations targeting its nuclear program, carried out alongside the United States.

Recently Iran accused Israel of being behind a January drone attack on a defense ministry site in Iran’s central Isfahan province.

In November, Israel and the United States blamed Iran for a drone strike on a tanker off the coast of Oman. The vessel was operated by a company owned by Idan Ofer, Eyal Ofer’s brother.

A Zodiac Maritime-operated vessel was struck by a drone off Oman in July 2021, killing two crew members, in an attack blamed on Iran.

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