Israeli forces have this week reportedly targeted a ship in the Red Sea used as a command centre by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard.
Media reports suggest the ship, the MV Saviz, had been used by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as an intelligence-gathering vessel in a strategically-important part of the sea and to support Iranian commandos operating in the area. Based off the coast of Yemen, it is believed to have been used by the IRGC to provide support to their Houthi proxy in the civil war. Iran reportedly also used the ship to monitor maritime traffic, including military vessels – an American aircraft carrier, the Dwight D. Eisenhower, was travelling through the area in recent days.
It is understood the ship was hit by an explosion under the water line on Tuesday morning, with Iranian media alleging that it was struck by a limpet mine. No injuries have been reported and the extent of the damage is unclear.
Israel has not taken responsibility for the incident but its Defense Minister Benny Gantz has this week stated: “The State of Israel must defend itself. Every place we find an operational challenge or operational need, we will continue to act”.
Israeli media indicate the ship was known to western intelligence services and had been present in the area for several years. Uniformed military personnel and other equipment associated with a non-civilian vessel have previously been documented, including small boats capable of carrying cargo to nearby Yemen. A US Naval Institute report on the boat has previously concluded: “The inference is clear. There is no legitimate civilian explanation for the action”.
The incident is the latest in a series of explosions on both Israeli and Iranian owned ships which are regarded as retaliatory amidst growing tensions. In recent years, Israel has reportedly attacked several Iranian-linked commercial ships believed to be illegally transporting oil and weapons in the Mediterranean and Red Sea. At the end of March, an Israeli-owned vessel was targeted by missile fire in the Gulf of Oman – an incident blamed on Iran.