Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, 2nd right, comments on the attack on an oil tanker near Oman, at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem on Sunday

Bennett: No doubt Iran behind tanker attack despite 'cowardly' denials

PM says Israel has its own way of relaying a message to Tehran as Iranian Foreign Ministry claims 'baseless' Israeli accusations are meant to divert attention as it creates 'insecurity, terror and violence'

Reuters |
Published: 08.01.21, 13:21
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Sunday accused Tehran of "trying to shirk responsibility" for the attack on an Israeli-operated oil tanker off the cost of Oman two days earlier, blasting its "cowardly" denial of any involvement in the strike that killed a Briton and a Romanian.
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  • Iran said on Sunday it was not involved in the attack on the Mercer Street tanker that American experts said was likely carried out by a drone.
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    ישיבת ממשלה
    ישיבת ממשלה
    Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, 2nd right, comments on the attack on an oil tanker near Oman, at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem on Sunday
    (Photo: Reuters)
    Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh told a weekly news conference that the "Zionist regime has created insecurity, terror and violence...These accusations about Iran's involvement are condemned by Tehran."
    "Such accusations are meant by Israel to divert attention from facts and are baseless," Khatibzadeh said.
    Bpeaking during a weekly meeting of his cabinet on Sunday, Bennett said there was no doubt Iran was responsible and warned that Israel would not let the attack go unanswered.
    "I declare unequivocally: Iran is the one that carried out the attack on the ship," Bennett said, adding that intelligence supports his claim.
    "We, in any case, have our own way to relay the message to Iran," the prime minister said.
    Bennett's comments came a day after Foreign Minister Yair Lapid also said the incident merited a harsh response.
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    ספינת MERCER STREET שהותקפה
    ספינת MERCER STREET שהותקפה
    Smoke rises from the oil tanker attacked Friday off the coast of Oman
    The British and Romanian crew members were killed when the Mercer Street, a Liberian-flagged, Japanese-owned ship managed by Israeli-owned Zodiac Maritime was attacked - apparently by a drone, a U.S. defense official said, though conclusive evidence was still needed.
    UK based Zodiac Maritime, which operates the tanker described the incident as "suspected piracy" and a source at the Oman Maritime Security Center as an accident that occurred outside Omani territorial waters.
    U.S. and European sources familiar with intelligence reporting said Iran was their leading suspect for the incident.
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    Outgoing Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaking in his final cabinet meeting on Sunday in Tehran
    Outgoing Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaking in his final cabinet meeting on Sunday in Tehran
    Outgoing Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaking in his final cabinet meeting on Sunday in Tehran
    (Photo:: EPA)
    Iran and Israel have traded accusations of carrying out attacks on each other's vessels in recent months.
    Tensions have risen in the Gulf region since the United States reimposed sanctions on Iran in 2018 after then-president Donald Trump withdrew Washington from Tehran's 2015 nuclear deal with major powers.'
    Lapid said Saturday night that he had discussed the attack with American Secretary of State Antony Blinken and that the the U.S. and Israel were working together to counter "Iranian terrorism."

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