Dominic Raab, British Foreign Secretary, called it an "unlawful attack" and said that his country and its allies had planned a coordinated response to Thursday's strike on the oil tanker Mercer Street. U.S. Secretary Of State Antony Blinken quickly followed suit, declaring that there was no justification for the attack. This follows a pattern and other belligerent behaviors.
After years of attacks on commercial shipping in the area, the strike at Mercer Street was the first known fatal attack.
Although no one has claimed responsibility, Iran and its militia allies used "suicide drones" in attacks before. These drones crash into targets and explode their explosive payloads. The U.K., Israel, and the U.S. Navy responding have not provided any evidence of the strike, or intelligence information about why they are blaming Tehran.
In his Sunday remarks at a Cabinet meeting, Naftali Bennett, Israeli Prime Minister, went beyond Raab and Blinken. He made a point of staring directly into the camera to warn that: "We know, at least, how to communicate the message to Iran in a different way."
A U.S. official stated that the drone strike blew a hole through the top bridge of the oil tanker, where the crew and captain command the vessel. An investigation into the attack was still ongoing, so the official spoke under anonymity. Two crew members from Romania and the United Kingdom were killed in the blast.
According to the Navy, the US nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (with the guided missile destroyer USS Mitscher) had accompanied the Mercer Street on its way to a port. Satellite-tracking data from MarineTraffic.com revealed that the tanker was stopped just off Fujairah, United Arab Emirates.
Raab stated that it was "highly probable" Iran would attack the tanker using one or more drones.
He stated that Iran's attack on the vessel was intentional, targeted, and violated international law. "Iran must stop such attacks and vessels must be permitted to navigate in accordance with international laws."
Blinken described the U.S. similarly as being "confident" that Iran carried out the attack using multiple drones.
He stated that "these actions threaten freedom to navigation through this critical waterway, international shipping, and commerce, as well as the lives of those aboard the vessels involved," in a statement.
Saeed Khatibzadeh, a spokesperson for the Iranian Foreign Ministry, described the claim that Iran was behind the attack as "baseless."
Khatibzadeh stated that "it's not the first instance that the Zionist regime occupying Jerusalem made such empty accusations about the Islamic Republic of Iran." "Wherever this regime goes, it brings terror, instability, and violence with them."
He said, "Whoever sows wind shall reap the whirlwind."
Khatibzadeh spoke around an hour after Iran's outgoing president acknowledged that his government at times "did not tell part of the truth" to the public during his term.
Bennett, from Jerusalem, offered condolences for both the United Kingdom of Romania on the murder of their citizens. Bennett claimed that Israeli intelligence had evidence linking Iran with the attack but didn't provide it.
He said that Iran was responsible for the attack on the ship. "Iran's aggressive behavior not only makes it dangerous for Israel but also harms international interests in freedom of navigation, and international trade."
Other Israel-linked ships have been targeted in recent months as well amid a shadow war between the two nations, with Israeli officials blaming the Islamic Republic for the assaults. The first time shipping in the region was targeted was in the summer 2019, one year after US President Donald Trump unilaterally pulled out of Iran's nuclear agreement with world powers.
Israel has been accused of carrying out a series major attacks on Iran and Iranian shipping. Also, Iran saw its largest warship recently sink under mysterious circumstances in the nearby Gulf of Oman.
Zodiac Maritime is part of Israeli billionaire Eyalofer's Zodiac Group. London-based Zodiac Maritime manages the Mercer Street. According to the U.S. Maritime Administration, the unexplained explosion at the board of the Liberian-flagged container vessel CSAV Tyndall in the northern Indian Ocean occurred in July.
Bennett's first major confrontation with Iran marks Bennett's debut as premier. He took office in June following a coalition agreement that displaced Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s long-serving Prime Minster. Netanyahu is suspected to have launched a series attacks against Iran, including the explosion of the country's main enrichment facility and the murder of a prominent nuclear scientist.
Bennett has also made hawkish remarks in the past about the need to attack the "head of the octopus in Tehran" as opposed to Iran’s regional militias such as Hezbollah, Lebanon. Bennett's attack on Mercer Street is his first as prime minister. Analysts suggest that he may seek a major counterattack.
Amos Harel wrote that Israel may want to deliver a devastating blow. This is the sentiment of the comments made by political sources in Jerusalem. "This blow will not be directed at escalating the situation. As usual, things also depend on the other.