Israeli investigators left on Saturday for Dubai to join the probe into the explosions on Israeli owned MV Helios Ray cargo ship in the Gulf of Oman on Thursday.
Defence minister Benny Gantz said his "initial assessment" was that Iran was responsible for the blasts.
A U.S. defense official in Washington said the explosions left holes above the waterline in both sides of the hull of the vehicle carrier that was on rout from Saudi Arabia to Singapore.
"Iran is looking to hit Israeli infrastructure and Israeli citizens," Gantz told the public broadcaster Kan on Saturday. "The location of the ship in relative close proximity to Iran raises the notion, the assessment, that it is the Iranians."
Security sources in Jerusalem estimated that the ship was targeted as part of an Iranian effort to avenge the death of Iran's chief nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, in November that was attributed to Israel. Iran said at the time that it would make a "calculated" response to the killing.
There was no immediate comment from Iranian officials though video of the strike appeared on Iranian television.
The ship is owned by a Tel Aviv company called Ray Shipping through a company registered in the Isle of Man, according to a U.N. shipping database.
Hebrew Language Channel 13 News said that officials believed the Iranian navy had launched a precision strike to avoid casualties, firing two missiles at a part of the ship that if damaged would not have sunk the vessel.
The ship was diverted to the port of Dubai for repairs.
Rami Unger, who the owner of Ray Shipping said he did not believe his vessel was targeted because of its Israeli ownership. "I think this is part of the game between Iran and the United States," he said.
Dryad Global, a maritime intelligence firm said it was very possible the blast stemmed from “asymmetric activity by Iranian military.”
The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) said an investigation into the incident was underway and added a warning that “Vessels transiting the area are advised to exercise caution.”
Tensions have risen in the Gulf region since the United States re-Itamimposed sanctions on Iran in 2018 after then-president Donald Trump withdrew Washington from a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and major powers.
Washington has blamed Iran for a number of attacks on shipping in strategic Gulf waters, notably on four vessels, including two Saudi oil tankers, in
First published: 07:45, 02.28.21