The oil tanker Mercer Street
As the BBC has reported, “The UK and US believe Iran was behind a tanker attack that killed two people, and have vowed to respond, calling it a violation of international law. The MV Mercer Street, operated by an Israeli-owned firm, was attacked off Oman on Thursday. A British national and a Romanian citizen were killed”. There was more.
“The statements came after Israel's Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said there was ‘evidence’ that its longstanding foe Iran was responsible. Mr Bennett warned that ‘we know how to send a message to Iran in our own way’, while Tehran rejected what it called the ‘baseless accusations’. The attack on the MV Mercer Street appears to be the latest escalation in an undeclared ‘shadow war’ between Israel and Iran”.
Zodiac Maritime - only on Twitter since June
At this point, it might appear that this is an open-and-shut attack on an Israeli asset, and that the reaction of PM Bennett is proportional. But the thought also enters that this might be too convenient a distraction for a régime that is under increasing international criticism for the actions of its armed forces towards those who live in the occupied West Bank - an occupation begun in 1967 that has been declared illegal under international law.
For starters, there is this snippet from the Sky News report on the attack: “The UK and US have blamed Iran for an attack on an Israeli-linked oil tanker in which two crew members, including a British national, were killed”. So not Israeli owned, merely “linked”. Do go on. “The tanker is operated by Zodiac Maritime, which is based in London and owned by Israeli billionaire Eyal Ofer”. “Operated”? So who owns the Mercer Street?
Not Zodiac Maritime, it seems. As the Independent has reported, “Zodiac Maritime is owned by Israeli businessman Eyal Ofer but its London-based office oversees the ship. The M/T Mercer Street is a ‘Japanese-owned vessel’, the company said, with shipping publication Lloyd’s List stating that the owner is Taihei Kaiun Co., which belongs to the Tokyo-based shipping company Nippon Yusen Group”.
So the Mercer Street is Japanese owned. It sails under the flag of Liberia. The company operating it is based in London. The two crewmen killed were British and Romanian. It had no cargo aboard at the time of the attack. It was sailing from Dar-es-Salaam in Tanzania to Fujairah in the UAE. And despite all this, the Israeli Government is sticking its bugle in, using the attack as an excuse to have an escalatory pop at the Iranians.
And before the claims that Israel is the wronged party, consider this claim from, of all publications, the Jewish Chronicle: “The Iranian nuclear scientist who was shot dead near Tehran in November was killed by a one-ton automated gun that was smuggled into the country piece-by-piece by the Mossad”. Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was, it seems, assassinated because Iran was alleged to be close to having The Bomb. By the Israelis.
Israel’s supporters brag about a terrorist act. Israel appoints itself the victim to pin an act of terrorism on the same adversary. It’s all a bit Heads They Win, Tails Iran Loses.
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