Iran’s Revolutionary Guards seize Israeli-affiliated ship

A vessel has been seized by Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guards in the strait of Hormuz, 50 nautical miles off the coast of the United Arab Emirates.

Commandos dropped from a helicopter on to an Israeli-affiliated container ship, the Portuguese-flagged MSC Aries, and Iran’s state news agency said the vessel was being transferred to Iran’s territorial waters.

It said the special forces unit of the guards’ navy carried out the attack on the container ship, which is associated with the London-based Zodiac Maritime ship management company, part of Israeli billionaire Eyal Ofer’s Zodiac Group.

Geneva-based MSC later acknowledged the seizure and said 25 crew had been aboard the vessel.

The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) agency said in a post on X that the incident had taken place north-east of Fujairah.

UKMTO had earlier said: “Vessel reported to have been seized by regional authorities. Vessels are advised to transit with caution and report any suspicious activity to UKMTO.”

The statement followed shortly after an initial report that the vessel had been “boarded”.

The strait of Hormuz lies between the Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, with Iran to the north. It is one of the world’s most strategically important shipping locations, providing the only sea passage from the Gulf to the open ocean.


The seizure comes amid escalating tensions in the region, with the US president, Joe Biden, saying he expected an Iranian attack on Israel “sooner rather than later”.

“We are devoted to the defence of Israel. We will support Israel. We will help defend Israel, and Iran will not succeed,” Biden told reporters on Friday.

Earlier the White House national security spokesperson, John Kirby, had warned that the threat of a significant Iranian attack on Israel remained “viable” despite Washington-led efforts, including calls to Tehran from the UK and Germany, to deter a serious escalation in the conflict in the Middle East.

The German airline Lufthansa said on Friday its planes would no longer use Iranian airspace and extended its suspension of flights to and from Tehran until Thursday.

Qantas has paused its direct flights from Perth to London because the 17-and-a-half-hour journey is possible only by using Iranian airspace.

Iran has threatened reprisals against Israel for a strike on the Iranian consulate in Syria on 1 April, in which seven members of the Revolutionary Guards, including two generals, were killed, sparking fears that an already volatile situation in the Middle East could quickly spiral further.