The blast that shattered the silence on Feb. 26 in the Gulf of Oman, ripping holes in the port and starboard sides of an Israeli-owned cargo vessel, is still resonating throughout the region. It is no less significant than the sounds of explosions caused by a US attack a day earlier on Iranian targets in Syrian territory. It took Israel 48 hours to conclude with certainty that Iran was behind the attack on the Israeli-owned vessel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said so personally in various interviews on March 1, joining similar public comments by Defense Minister Benny Gantz and the chief of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi. All that was left was for Israel to decide whether and how to respond. Israeli officials have avoided answering reporters’ questions of whether a response was in the works.
The MV Helios Ray, flying a Bahamian flag, is owned by Israeli shipping magnate and vehicle importer Rami Unger, who also happens to be a close friend of former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Israel believes Iran knew the vessel was Israeli-owned and targeted it in retaliation for the repeated blows it has sustained on its facilities in the region in the ongoing military campaign dubbed “the war between the wars.”