An Israeli-owned ship was attacked near Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates, the Lebanese Al Mayadeen news channel reported on Tuesday.
Israeli defense sources confirmed that a ship partially was attacked on Tuesday, and said they were certain that Iran is behind the attack. The attack took place in international waters, likely by an unmanned drone or a missile strike, they said, noting that only minor damage was caused.
The ship, the Hyperion Ray, is partially owned by Israeli businessman Rami Ungar, but had no Israeli nationals on board and did not sail under an Israeli flag, the sources said.
Israeli security officials have expressed concern over a recent series of reports attributing a number of attacks on Iranian targets to Israel. Some have expressed suspicion that there are political officials who want to exploit tensions with Iran for personal needs and competition for prestige among different security agencies.
The most recent reports, which quoted anonymous Israeli and U.S. officials as saying that Israel was behind an incident at Iran’s uranium enrichment facility at Natanz, have made some Israeli officials worried that the problem could lead to an unwanted increase in security tensions.
On Monday, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif blamed Israel for the explosion at the facility, and said "the Zionists want to take revenge because of our progress in the way to lift sanctions. They have publicly said that they will not allow this. But we will take our revenge from the Zionists," according to Iranian state TV.
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Last week, an Iranian cargo ship, the MV Saviz, believed to be a base for the paramilitary Revolutionary Guard and anchored for years in the Red Sea off Yemen, was attacked.
A U.S. official said that Israel notified the United States that it had struck an Iranian vessel, calling it "a retaliatory" attack for earlier Iranian strikes on Israeli vessels, The New York Times reported at the time.
The attack came after an Iranian missile hit an Israeli-owned cargo ship last month in the Arabian Sea as the ship was making its way from Tanzania to India when the missile hit.
On Tuesday, U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan reaffirmed the Biden administration's "unwavering commitment to Israel’s security and to ensuring that Iran will never obtain a nuclear weapon" in a virtual meeting of a U.S.-Israel strategic consulting group.
According to a White House statement, the officials expressed their shared interest in maintaining a close and open dialogue in the months ahead. Mr. Sullivan warmly invited his Israeli counterpart, Meir Ben-Shabbat, to visit Washington before the end of this month for follow-up consultations.