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International Business Times
International Business Times
Litty Simon

Iran Seizes Israel-Linked Cargo Ship In The Strait Of Hormuz

Representative image (Credit: AFP)

Iran's Revolutionary Guards seized an Israeli-linked cargo ship in the Strait of Hormuz on Saturday, following Tehran's recent threat to close the strategic shipping route. The seizure came in the wake of Iran's warning of retaliation for an Israeli strike on its consulate in Syria.

MSC, the operator of the Aries, confirmed that Iran had seized the ship. They stated they were collaborating "with the relevant authorities" to ensure the safe return of the vessel and the well-being of its 25 crew members, reported Reuters.

According to IRNA, the Portuguese-flagged ship was operated by the Zodiac shipping company, which it associated with an Israeli businessman. However, Zodiac clarified in a statement that the ship is managed and operated by the U.K.-based shipping company, MSC.

Video footage aired on the state-owned news network, Press TV, depicted individuals allegedly using a rope to descend onto the ship. The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) commandos rappelled down from a helicopter onto the ship in the Strait of Hormuz, approximately 80km off the coast of the UAE.

The incident occurs against a backdrop of escalating regional tensions, which have heightened since the commencement of Israel's campaign in Gaza in October. During this time, Israel or its ally, the United States, have frequently clashed with Iranian-aligned groups in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Yemen.

NBC News reported that the Israeli government declined to comment on the ship's seizure. However, Israel Katz, the country's foreign minister, asserted on X that Iran was "currently engaging in a pirate operation in violation of international law."

Israeli military spokesperson Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, in a separate statement on Saturday warned that Iran would face repercussions if it decided to escalate the situation further, independent of the unfolding events in the Strait of Hormuz.

"Israel is on high alert. We have increased our readiness to protect Israel from further Iranian aggression. We are also prepared to respond," he said.

The United States has shown its backing for Israel and endeavored to convince Iran to refrain from significant escalation. Despite growing criticism of Israel's conduct during the Gaza conflict, President Joe Biden has reaffirmed America's "iron-clad commitment" to Israel's security against threats from Iran and its proxies.

Iran has issued warnings of retaliation following suspected Israeli airstrikes on its consulate in Damascus, Syria's capital, on April 1. The airstrikes resulted in the deaths of seven Revolutionary Guards officers, including two senior commanders.

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