Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz said on August 5 that his country is prepared to “take military action against Iran.”
Israel, the United States, and Britain have accused Iran of involvement in a July 29 attack in the Gulf of Oman on the Mercer Street, a Liberian-flagged, Japanese-owned tanker managed by Israeli-owned Zodiac Maritime. But no country has provided evidence of its claims.
Iran has denied any involvement in the attack, which the United States and other officials said was carried out by an unmanned drone.
The attack killed one British and one Romanian crewman aboard the Mercer Street.
“We are at a point where we need to take military action against Iran,” Gantz said. “The world needs to take action against Iran now.”
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh reacted to Gantz’s comments by warning that, in the event of military action, Tehran would retaliate.
“In another brazen violation of Int’l law, Israeli regime now blatantly threatens #Iran with military action.,” Khatibzadeh said on Twitter on August 5.
“We state this clearly: ANY foolish act against Iran will be met with a DECISIVE response. Don’t test us,” he added.
In a letter to the UN Security Council, Iran’s charge d’affaires in New York called Israel “the main source of instability and insecurity in the Middle East and beyond for more than seven decades.”
Tensions have risen in the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman since the United States reimposed sanctions on Iran after withdrawing from a 2015 nuclear deal with major powers trading sanctions relief for checks on sensitive activities.
Israel opposes the current international efforts to revive that deal.
It is also seemingly eager to send a tough message to newly inaugurated Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, who holds ultimate power in Tehran.
Israeli warplanes struck targets in southern Lebanon overnight on August 4-5 after rocket attacks from the area in the first aerial bombardment by Israel on Lebanese territory since 2006.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, echoing comments from Britain, said on August 2 that there would be a collective response to the attack on the Mercer Street.
Tehran said it would respond swiftly to any threat to its security.