Iran blamed for seizing Israeli-linked ship off coast of UAE

Iran blamed for seizing Israeli-linked ship off coast of UAE

A commercial ship with links to Israel has been seized by the Iranian special forces, the vessel’s management has said.

The MSC Aries, which is linked to Israeli billionaire Eyal Ofer, said in a statement that it was boarded by the third party while off the coast of the United Arab Emirates.

Iranian operatives are accused of taking the boat as it passed through the Strait of Hormuz on Saturday morning

The BBC reported the incident on Saturday afternoon but did not state where the ship had set sail and where it was heading to.

Tehran has not commented on the incident but Iranian media have said the Aries is now being transported to Iranian waters.

The exact details are unclear as the ship had turned off its tracking devices before being reportedly seized in Fujairah in the UAE.

According to Reuters, MSC confirmed Iran had seized the ship and said it was working "with the relevant authorities" for its return and the wellbeing of its 25 crew.

Israel's military spokesperson, Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, said "Iran will bear consequences for choosing to escalate this situation any further", in response to reports of the seizure of MSC Aries.

Israeli foreign minister Israel Katz, meanwhile, accused Tehran of piracy.

The UK's Maritime Trade Operations agency confirmed the boarding but did not comment any further.

The incident comes amid rising regional tensions since the start of Israel's campaign in Gaza in October, with Israel or its ally the United States clashing repeatedly with Iranian-aligned groups in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen.

Iran has threatened to retaliate for suspected Israeli airstrikes on its consulate in Syria's capital Damascus on April 1 that killed seven Revolutionary Guards officers including two senior commanders.

US President Joe Biden said on Friday he expected Iran to attack Israel "sooner, rather than later" and warned Tehran not to do so.