Iran may have mistakenly targeted ship it believed was Israeli-owned

The Liberian-flagged Tyndall’s Israeli owner reportedly sold off his stake months ago

Borzou Daragahi
International Correspondent
Sunday 04 July 2021 13:20
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Iran may be behind an attack on a cargo ship believing it was owned by an Israeli businessman who reportedly sold his stake months ago.

Maritime authorities are investigating an alleged attack on an Israeli-connected cargo ship struck by an explosion in the Indian Ocean this weekend as it made its way from Saudi Arabia to the United Arab Emirates.

The CSAV Tyndall, a Liberian-flagged cargo ship, was once partially owned by Israeli shipping and real estate tycoon Eyal Ofer, who reportedly sold off his ownership of the vessel months ago.

None of the Tyndall members of the crew are Israeli, and if the reports of an attack turn out to be accurate, it suggests Iran or one of its allies hit the ship based on outdated or flawed intelligence.

“Someone is following the ships with some intelligence access,” said Yoruk Isik, an Istanbul-based maritime expert. “There is no mark that identifies this ship as an Israeli ship. There are no Israeli crew members. It’s traveling between two Arab cities. Someone in the industry must be feeding information about which ship is owned by whom.”

Iran and Israel, longtime adversaries, have been engaged in months of tit-for-tat attacks targeting each other’s shipping.

Israeli-owned commercial vessels were struck in the Gulf of Oman in February and April. An Iranian cargo ship was attacked in the Red Sea in April, and Iran’s largest navy ship sank as a result of a fire in June in the Gulf of Oman.

Al-Mayadeen, a television station operated by Iranian-backed Lebanese militia Hezbollah, was the first or among the first to report the Tyndall incident.

It cited unnamed sources as saying the Tyndall, which it described as Israeli owned, was en route from the Saudi Arabian port of Jeddah towards a port in the United Arab Emirates when it was hit with an unknown weapon, causing a fire on board.

There were no reported injuries among the crew. Israel’s N12 television station cited Israeli defence sources as saying the Tyndall was not badly damaged by what appeared to be a possible missile attack on Saturday and continued its journey after the incident.

Vessel tracking services showed the ship had arrived at the major UAE port of Jebel Ali on late Saturday, nearly six days after leaving Jeddah on the Red Sea.

Iran and world powers are in the midst of negotiating a possible return to the 2015 nuclear deal abandoned by the administration of Donald Trump.

Israel opposes the talks. Its leaders consider Iran’s nuclear programme, support for armed groups in the Middle East and missile technology endeavours major security threats, and have vowed to continue a clandestine effort to curtail Tehran’s ambitions.

“Anyone who tries to harm the State of Israel knows that any offensive enemy activity, near or far, will be answered with a significant, overt or covert response,” Israeli armed forces chief of staff Aviv Kohavi warned. He told graduating officers on Friday: “This is how we have behaved in the past, and this is how we will behave in the future.”

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