Iran seizes Israeli-linked ship in Strait of Hormuz

Iran's Revolutionary Guard has reportedly seized an Israeli-linked container ship near the Strait of Hormuz amid heightening tensions among the two countries.

Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency acknowledged the seizure after a video seen by The Associated Press showed commandos raiding the ship Saturday.

Commandos from Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard rappelled down onto the ship and seized the vessel. 

IRNA said the Guard would take the vessel into Iranian territorial waters.


FILE - A container ship navigates waters under dramatic skies. Getty Images

It’s the latest in a series of attacks between the two countries as the Middle East is bracing for potential Iranian retaliation over a suspected Israeli strike earlier this month on an Iranian consular building in Syria that killed 12 people.

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Iran since 2019 has engaged in a series of ship seizures and attacks on vessels have been attributed to it amid ongoing tensions with the West over its rapidly advancing nuclear program.

Iran offered no initial explanation for the seizure Saturday other than to say the Portuguese-flagged MSC Aries had links to Israel.

The MSC Aries is associated with London-based Zodiac Maritime, which is part of Israeli billionaire Eyal Ofer’s Zodiac Group.

US response

Later on Saturday, President Joe Biden cut short a weekend trip to his beach house in Delaware to return to the White House and monitor the situation.

The U.S., Israel’s main backer, has stood by the country despite growing concerns over Israel’s war on Gaza killing more than 33,600 Palestinians and wounding over 76,200 more. Israel’s war began after Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel that killed 1,200 people and saw some 250 others taken hostage.

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III told Israel's defense minister that the nation could count on U.S. support to defend against attacks by Iran, Pentagon Press Secretary Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder said Saturday.

Strait of Hormuz

The Gulf of Oman is near the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf through which a fifth of all globally traded oil passes. 

Fujairah, on the United Arab Emirates’ eastern coast, is a main port in the region for ships to take on new oil cargo, pick up supplies or trade out crew.

This story was reported from Detroit. The Associated Press contributed.