Iran seizes ‘Israel-linked’ container ship

Iran's Revolutionary Guards seized a container ship that is "linked to Israel" on Saturday. Israeli Foreign minister Israel Katz called on the European Union to include the Revolutionary Guards on its list of terrorist organisations.

"A container ship named MCS Aries was seized by special maritime forces during a helicopter operation near the Strait of Hormuz," reported Irna, Iran's news agency, on Saturday. Earlier, maritime companies had reported on a seizure on that strait between Iran and the United Arab Emirates, without disclosing who was responsible.

The vessel flies the Portuguese flag and is operated by Zodiac, a company owned by Israeli-born businessman Eyal Ofer. According to maritime website Marine Traffic, the ship was on the way from the United Arab Emirates to India. Italian-Swiss shipping company MSC confirmed the seizure and said there were 25 crew members on board.

In a statement on X, Katz called on the EU to include Iran's Revolutionary Guards on its list of terrorist organisations. He also called on "the European Union and the free world” to “sanction Iran now".

Soon after the announcement of Iran, Israeli army spokespersons Daniel Hagari said in a video message that Iran "will bear the consequences of its choice to escalate the situation further". He added that the army had “stepped up preparations to protect Israel from further Iranian aggression” and that Israel was “ready to respond”. However, he did not mention the seizure, and it is not clear whether the video was shot before or after that Iranian action.

Tensions in the region have risen since the outbreak of war between Israel and the extremist Palestinian organisation Hamas in October. Unrest has intensified following the deadly attack on the Iranian consulate in the Syrian capital Damascus on 1 April. Tehran blames Israel and has threatened retaliation. US president Joe Biden said on Friday that he expected Iran to attack Israel "sooner rather than later".


Israeli Foreign minister Israel Katz speaks to reporters © PHOTO AHMAD GHARABLI / AFP

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