| 24 February 2024, Saturday |

Tanker hit off Oman, says Israeli-controlled shipping firm

The Israeli-controlled Eastern Pacific Shipping reported on Wednesday that a tanker was hit off the coast of Oman on Tuesday, sustaining minor hull damage but no injuries or spillage of the gas and oil cargo. An Israeli official claimed that Iran was to blame.

According to three maritime sources who spoke to Reuters, the tanker may have been hit by a drone. According to a representative of Israel, Iran carried out the attack using a Shahed-136 drone, the same model it has been giving to Russia for use in the Ukraine.

Iran’s Nournews, which is affiliated with the country’s top security body, blamed Israel for the attack and said the “Hebrew-Arab axis” aimed to create a “charged atmosphere” ahead of soccer’s World Cup that starts in Qatar on Sunday.

It was an apparent reference to a regional axis formed when the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain forged ties with Israel in 2020, partly driven by mutual security concerns over Iran. The UAE and Bahrain were among four Arab states that had boycotted Qatar in a row that was largely resolved early last year.

Eastern Pacific Shipping, which manages the vessel, said it was investigating the incident involving the Pacific Zircon tanker approximately 150 miles off Oman. All crew were safe and accounted for, it said.

Gulf waters have in recent years seen attacks on tankers that have come at times of heightened regional tensions with Iran. In July 2021, a suspected drone attack hit a petroleum product tanker managed by an Israeli firm off Oman’s coast. Iran denied accusations it was responsible.

  • Reuters