Defense Minister Benny Gantz warned on Monday that Israel must act immediately against Tehran, after a ship run by an Israeli company was hit by a drone, apparently sent by Iran, last week.
Gantz described Thursday’s deadly attack on the oil tanker Mercer Street as a major escalation by Iran.
“Iran’s aggression in the region in general and on the maritime front in particular is escalating,” Gantz told a Knesset plenary session. “This is the exact reason why we must act now against Iran, which not only aspires to a nuclear army [program] but also leads to a dangerous arms race and the crumbling of stability in the Middle East.
There are “hundreds of Iranian UAVs in Iran, Yemen, Iraq and other countries,” Gantz warned. “In the past year, there have been no less than five Iranian attacks on international ships, some using drones made by the Iranian military industry. “
Two people were killed on board the Mercer Street tanker – a British national and a Romanian national. Thursday’s drone attack was blamed on Iran by Israel, the United States, the United Kingdom and Romania.
“Iran, under the” executioner ” [Ebrahim] Raisi, who takes office this week, will be more dangerous to the world than he has been so far, more destructive to the region than he has been so far, and will strive to become an existential threat to Israel, ”said Gantz, referring to the new Iranian president, accused of having participated in the massacres of prisoners towards the end of the 1980-1988 war between Iran and Iraq.
. המתאבד שהרג את הבריטי. . pic.twitter.com/bGilqZPZKU
– Or Heller אור הלר (@OrHeller) August 1, 2021
“We will act to eliminate such a threat,” warned the Minister of Defense.
“Israel has a variety of tools and options to protect its citizens, and we will hold accountable anyone who seeks to harm us, in time, place and methods that serve us and our security,” a- he added.
The Mercer Street is a Japanese oil tanker flying the Liberian flag and with a foreign crew. Its only ties to Israel are that the ship is run by London-based Zodiac Maritime, a company owned by Israeli billionaire Eyal Ofer.
Yet Israel believes that this is precisely why it was hit and views the attack as an attack aimed at its interests.
“It’s not just an Israeli problem, the whole world is seeing the results of Iranian aggression,” Gantz said.
“And any deal with Iran must also address the removal of its threat to the region, and its damage to innocent people and the global economy,” he added, referring to attempts at restoring it. 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, also known as JCPOA. .
The deal saw Iran accept restrictions on its nuclear capabilities in exchange for easing sanctions.
But former US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the deal three years later and stepped up sanctions again, pushing Tehran to pull out of most of its nuclear commitments.
Trump’s successor Joe Biden has signaled he is ready to return to the deal and has engaged in indirect negotiations with Iran alongside formal talks with the other parties to the deal – the Great -Brittany, China, France, Germany and Russia.
The recent attack marked the first known deadly attack after years of attacks on commercial shipping in the region linked to tensions between Israel and Iran over the tattered nuclear deal.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.