dubai – A container ship owned by an Israeli billionaire was attacked by a drone believed to be Iranian in the Indian Ocean, US defense officials said Saturday, as Israel wages war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
Friday’s attack on CMA CGM Symi came as the global shipping industry has increasingly been targeted in a weeks-long war that threatens to erupt into broader regional conflict. A ceasefire halts fighting and Hamas exchanges hostages for Palestinian prisoners held by Israel..
A defense official, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence, said the Maltese-flagged vessel is suspected of being targeted by Shahed-136, a triangular bomb-laden drone, in international waters. The drone exploded, damaging the ship but causing no injuries to the crew.
“We will continue to closely monitor the situation,” the official said. The official did not provide details about what information the U.S. military had gathered to assess that Iran was behind the attack.
Al-Mayadeen, a pan-Arab satellite broadcaster politically allied with the Iranian-backed Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, reported that Israeli ships were targeted in the Indian Ocean. The channel cited anonymous sources in its report, which was later cited by Iranian media.
CMA CGM, a major shipper based in Marseille, France, did not respond to a request for comment. However, the ship’s crew was acting as if they believed the ship was facing a threat.
The ship’s Automatic Identification System tracking device had been switched off since Tuesday, when it left Dubai’s Jebel Ali port, according to data from MarineTraffic.com analyzed by The Associated Press. The vessel is supposed to keep her AIS activated for safety reasons, but the crew will turn off her AIS if they believe she may be targeted. It had previously done the same when passing through the Red Sea and through Yemen, a stronghold of the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels.
“The attack was likely targeted because the ship is affiliated with Israel through Eastern Pacific Shipping,” private intelligence firm Ambry told The Associated Press. “The ship’s AIS communications had been out of service for several days prior to the incident, indicating that this alone would not have prevented the attack.”
The Simi is owned by Singapore-based Eastern Pacific Shipping, a company ultimately controlled by Israeli billionaire Idan Ofer. Eastern Pacific Shipping’s phone number in Singapore went unanswered on Saturday, and no one responded to an email seeking comment. The Israeli military referred questions to the Israeli Foreign Ministry, which did not immediately respond.
Iran’s mission to the United Nations did not respond to requests for comment. However, Tehran and Israel engaged in a long shadow war In the Middle East, there have also been drone attacks targeting Israeli-related vessels sailing in the region.
In the Israeli-Hamas war that began with an attack by militants on October 7, the Houthis Captured a vehicle transport ship in the Red Sea Off the coast of Yemen. Iranian-backed militias in Iraq have also launched attacks on U.S. forces in both Iraq and Syria during the war, although Iran itself has not yet been directly involved in the attacks.
Associated Press writer Isabel Debre in Jerusalem contributed to this report.
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https://www.local10.com/news/world/2023/11/25/an-israeli-owned-ship-was-targeted-in-suspected-iranian-attack-in-indian-ocean-us-official-tells-ap/ Israeli-owned ship targeted in suspected Iranian attack in Indian Ocean, US official tells Associated Press