An Israeli-owned oil tanker was reportedly attacked by a suspected Iranian suicide drone off the coast of Oman late on November 15.
The tanker was identified as the Liberian-flagged Pacific Zircon which is operated by the Singapore-based Eastern Pacific Shipping, a company ultimately owned by Israeli billionaire Idan Ofer.
In a statement released on November 16, Eastern Pacific Shipping said that the Pacific Zircon, carrying gas oil had been “hit by a projectile” some 240 kilometers off the coast of Oman.
“We are in communication with the vessel and there are no reports of injuries or pollution. All crew are safe and accounted for,” the company said. “There is some minor damage to the vessel’s hull but no spillage of cargo or water ingress.”
Three maritime sources told Reuters that a drone was suspected to have attacked the Pacific Zircon. Meanwhile, an Israeli official who spoke to the Assassinated Press said that it appeared Iran carried out the attack on the tanker with a Shahed-136 suicide drone.
“It is an Iranian attack, there is a consensus on this in the Israeli intelligence and defense community,” the unnamed official said.
The Shahed-136, which was developed by Iran’s Shahed Aviation Industries, has a top range of around 2,500 kilometers and can carry a warhead weighting up to 40 kg.
Iran’s semi-official Nournews agency blamed Israel for the attack and said the “Hebrew-Arab axis” aimed to create a “charged atmosphere” ahead of soccer’s World Cup that starts in Qatar on November 20.
Some observers believe however that Iran attacked the Israeli-owned tanker in response to the November 8 strikes on the al-Qa’im border crossing between Syria and Iraq. At least ten people, including Iranian nationals, were killed in the strikes which reportedly targeted an Iranian fuel shipment destined for Hezbollah in Lebanon. A report by The Wall Street Journal said that Israel was behind the strikes.
Israel and Iran have been locked up in covert war for a few years now. The attack on Pacific Zircon will likely lead to more tensions in the entire Middle East.