Israel accuses Iran of turning civilian ships to ‘floating terror bases’ in MidEast

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Israel’s defense minister accused Iran on Monday of turning merchant ships into military vessels to create “floating terror bases” in the Middle East’s maritime domain.

Speaking at a conference, Yoav Gallant presented images of five different ships he said Iran has converted to military vessels through secretly equipping them with fighters and weapons.

He added that Tehran was using those armed naval craft to “extend its tentacles across the Middle East” and to “establish a new front against” Israel.

“This follows directly on the maritime terrorism Iran has been imposing on the Gulf and Arabian Sea. It is working to expand its activity to the Indian Ocean, too, and later to the Red Sea and to the Mediterranean Sea as well,” the Israeli minister added.

Gallant said: “Iran is the biggest threat to the stability of the region and the world. It is prosecuting a war of attrition against Israel.”

Maritime tensions between Iran and Israel are an extension of broader geopolitical rivalries, including disputes over the Iran nuclear deal, political and financial backing of militias across the Middle East, and the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine.

Maritime disputes between the two in recent years materialized in the form of numerous incidents which have occurred in the Gulf involving seizures of vessels, attacks on ships, and allegations of maritime aggression. Each side accuses the other of destabilizing activities and threats to maritime security.

Gallant’s accusation against Iran plays out against a backdrop of heightened tensions and international concerns regarding security in Gulf waters. As shipping traffic through the Gulf, and specifically tanker transit through the Strait of Hormuz – the world’s most vital oil artery – have dominated the limelight in recent weeks after Iran seized two foreign-owned vessels sparking fears of renewed Iranian attacks targeting commercial shipping vessels in Gulf waters.

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Satellite images show two oil tankers seized by Iran off Bandar Abbas

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