Another Israeli-linked shipping vessel has been targeted by Iran-backed forces against the backdrop of the Gaza war. A US defense official was cited in the Associated Press as describing that a container ship owned by an Israeli businessman came under attack by an Iranian-made Shahed-136 drone on Friday.
Separately, the pan-Arab satellite channel Al Mayadeen said an Israeli ship was targeted. The Malta-flagged, French-operated CMA CGM Symi vessel was in international waters when the suicide drone armed with a bomb exploded into the ship, causing damage but not resulting in injury to crew members.
The US official cited in AP said "we continue to monitor the situation closely" but did not cite any specific evidence showing Iran to be behind the attack.
Maritime security company Ambrey said the vessel had departed a port in the UAE, and soon the ship's tracking signal went offline. "The vessel was managed by an Israeli-affiliated company, which was assessed to be the reason why it was targeted," a statement from the security company said.
As for Israeli ties, The Times of Israel has learned that "The ship, its cargo, its operating company and its points of departure and destination did not appear to have any clear ties to Israel. Rather, the Symi is leased to CMA CGM by Singapore-based Eastern Pacific Shipping, which is a company ultimately controlled by Israeli billionaire Idan Ofer."
According to further emerging details:
CMA CGM, a major shipper based in Marseille, France, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. However, the vessel’s crew had been behaving as though they believed the ship faced a threat.
...The ship had its Automatic Identification System tracker switched off since Tuesday when it left Dubai’s Jebel Ali port, according to data from MarineTraffic.com analyzed by the AP.
Thus it's likely the crew switched off the tracker as it suspected a drone was overhead seeking to target the ship. In the attack aftermath, a statement from the operator indicated that as of Saturday, "The vessel in question is currently sailing as planned" and that "all crew are safe and well."
The following unverified photograph is widely circulating on Saturday...
تعرضت سفينة شحن مملوكة لإسرائيل لهجوم في المحيط الهندي، وفقًا لتقرير لوكالة أسوشييتد برس للأنباء من مصادر أمنية أمريكية، وتعرضت السفينة CMA CGM Symi لهجوم بطائرة بدون طيار إيرانية، بعد أقل من أسبوع من سيطرة الحوثيين في اليمن. سفينة الشحن جالاكسي ليدر. pic.twitter.com/H84f54G9kS— Dr.Sam Youssef Ph.D.,M.Sc.,DPT. (@drhossamsamy65) November 25, 2023
Tensions have increased in the Red Sea and Persian Gulf areas on fears that Iran-backed groups could escalate attacks on shipping. The Houthis on Nov. 21 seized an Israeli-linked shipping vessel and are holding the 25 international crew members hostage.