Iran’s Revolutionary Guard seizes Israeli-linked ship

Iranian troops rappelled from a helicopter and boarded the ship near the Strait of Hormuz. The Israeli military said Iran would face consequences for escalating the tense situation between the two countries.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards have detained a container ship near the Strait of Hormuz, Iran’s official IRNA news agency reported on Saturday.

Footage provided to the news agency Associated Press showed commandos rappelling down from a helicopter and raiding the ship.

The vessel has been linked to Zodiac Group, a shipping company owned by Israeli billionaire Eyal Ofer.

Israel condemned the incident as an act of piracy amid rising tensions between the two countries.

UK Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) also said that a ship had been seized by regional authorities 50 nautical miles (92 km) northeast of the UAE port of Fujairah. A US defense official said “we are aware of the situation reported by UKMTO and we are monitoring it.”

What do we know about the ship?

The vessel was identified as the MSC Aries, a Portuguese-flagged container ship.

“We regret to confirm that MSC Aries… has been boarded by Iranian authorities via helicopter as she passed the Strait of Hormuz at approximately 0243 UTC this morning,” MSC said in a statement on Saturday.

“She has 25 crew onboard, and we are working closely with the relevant authorities to ensure their wellbeing, and safe return of the vessel.”

The vessel was associated with London-based Zodiac Maritime, itself part of Israeli billionaire Eyal Ofer’s Zodiac Group.

Israel condemns ‘pirate operation’

Israel’s Foreign Minister Israel Katz said the ship raid was an act of piracy.

“The Ayatollah regime of Khamenei is a criminal regime that supports Hamas’ crimes and is now conducting a pirate operation in violation of international law,” Katz said.

“I call on the European Union and the free world to immediately declare the Iranian Revolutionary Guards corps as a terrorist organization and to sanction Iran now.”

The incident comes after Iran threatened to attack Israel in response to an airstrike on an Iranian consular building in Syria on April 1 that killed a number of Iranian generals.

In response to the ship seizure on Saturday, Israeli military spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said that “Iran will bear consequences for choosing to escalate this situation any further.”

Source: DW.com

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