Israeli ship docked in Dubai after mysterious explosion | Conflict News
U.S. officials say the vessel sustained two holes on its port side and two on its starboard side just above the waterline.
An Israeli cargo ship that suffered a mysterious explosion in the Gulf of Oman arrived at the port of Dubai for repairs, days after the explosion rekindled security concerns over Middle East waterways amid heightened tensions with Iran.
The towering Israeli-owned MV Helios Ray sat in the dry dock facilities at Dubai’s Rashid port on Sunday. Although the crew were not injured in the blast, the vessel sustained two holes on its port side and two on its starboard side just above the waterline, according to U.S. defense officials.
It is still unclear what caused the explosion, but the incident comes amid sharply rising tension between the United States and Iran during its collapse in 2015. nuclear deal with world powers. Iran has sought to pressure President Joe Biden’s administration into granting it the sanctions relief it received under the deal, which former President Donald Trump has abandoned.
Emirati officials did not immediately acknowledge receipt or respond to requests for comment about the ship docking in the country.
The explosion on the ship, a roll-on, roll-off vehicle cargo ship flying the flag of the Bahamas, recalled a series of attacks on foreign tankers in 2019 that the US Navy blamed on Iran. Tehran has denied any role in the alleged assaults, which occurred near the Strait of Hormuz, a key oil choke point.
Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz said on Saturday that an initial assessment found Iran to be responsible for the explosion.
Gilad Erdan, Israeli Ambassador to the United States and the United Nations, told IDF Radio on Sunday that “it is no secret that the Iranians are trying to harm Israeli targets,” adding that the he explosion on the ship bore the characteristics of other Iranian attacks.
The Haaretz newspaper reported that Israeli defense officials flew to Dubai on Saturday to investigate the incident.
The Helios Ray unloaded cars at various Gulf ports before leaving the Middle East for Singapore. The explosion struck as the ship sailed from the Saudi port of Dammam out of the Gulf of Oman, forcing it to turn to Dubai, United Arab Emirates, for inspection.
Iranian authorities have not publicly commented on the ship. The country’s radical daily Kayhan, whose editor-in-chief was appointed by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, alleged that Helios Ray was “perhaps” on a “spy” mission in the region, without offering any evidence to support this claim. Sunday’s report speculated that the ship may have been “ambushed by a branch of the resistance axis”, referring to Iranian proxies in the region.
Iran has also blamed Israel for a recent round of attacks, including a mysterious explosion last summer that destroyed a state-of-the-art centrifuge assembly plant at its Natanz nuclear facility and the assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, a senior Iranian scientist who founded Iran’s military nuclear program two decades ago.
Iran’s repeated vows to avenge the murder of Fakhrizadeh have raised alarm bells in Israel, especially as the Gulf sees an increase in trafficking from Israel as a result of its standardization deals with UAE and Bahrain.