“We just heard a distorted statement about the Mercer Street vessel incident. Let me say a few words about it. First, our thoughts are with the families of those who have lost their loved ones in that unfortunate incident. Immediately following this event, Israeli officials accused Iran of the incident. This is what they usually do. It is a standard practice of the Israeli regime. Its aim is to divert the attention of the world public opinion from the regime’s crimes and inhumane practices in the region,” said Zahra Ershadi, ambassador and Charge d’affaires ad interim of the Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations.
She added, “To that end, they accuse others of wrongdoing. In almost all incidents in the Middle East, Israel accuses Iran. They do it immediately and provide no evidence.”
She made the remarks in a statement on Friday after a closed-door meeting of the UN Security Council on a recent incident for an Israeli-operated oil tanker in the Gulf of Oman.
The Israeli-operated ship Mercer Street was attacked off the coast of Oman on July 29 while traveling from Dar es Salaam in Tanzania to the United Arab Emirates port of Fujairah. The oil tanker, managed by Israeli shipping magnate Eyal Ofer’s Zodiac Maritime, was reportedly attacked by suicide drones. Zodiac Maritime said two crewmen, a British and Romanian national, died in the attack.
“With profound sadness, we understand the incident onboard the M/T Mercer Street on 29 July, 2021 has resulted in the deaths of two crew members on board,” the UK-based Israeli company said in a statement on Friday afternoon, a day after the attack.
Israel, along with the U.S. and the UK, blamed Iran for the attack without presenting any evidence to support their accusations.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett claimed that Tel Aviv knows with certainty Iran attacked the Mercer Street ship and will respond to it.
“I determine, with absolute certainty – Iran carried out the attack against the ship,” Bennett stated, according to the Jerusalem Post. “The intelligence evidence for this exists and we expect the international community will make it clear to the Iranian regime that they have made a serious mistake.”
He noted, “In any case, we know how to send a message to Iran in our own way.”
Iran strongly rejected the accusation, saying it was not involved in the attack.
“Playing victim, lying and deception are part of their toolbox,” Ershadi said of Israel, noting, “Israel’s hue and cry on the Mercer Street incident is aimed, in particular, at hiding its terrorist acts against commercial navigation. Only in less than two years, this regime has attacked over 10 commercial vessels in regional seas. On 17 January 2021, the Syrian Prime Minister stated that 7 oil tankers en route to Syria were attacked. Israel was behind these incidents that caused serious fuel shortage in Syria. On 11 March 2021, mainstream media outlets reported that Israel targeted at least a dozen vessels bound for Syria, mostly carrying oil.”
The Iranian diplomat went on to enumerate Israel’s malign activities against Iran and beyond.
She pointed out, “On 23 April 2021, an oil tanker off Syria’s coast was attacked by a drone. Three Syrians including two members of the crew were killed. Again, Israel was responsible for the attack. These are only a few examples of adventurism and destabilizing activities of the Israeli regime at regional seas. Such unlawful and terrorist acts seriously threaten maritime security, disrupt freedom of navigation and endanger energy security. Likewise, Israel continues its systematic and persistent aggressions against sovereignty and territorial integrity of regional countries. These illegal acts constitute a serious threat to regional and international peace and security. The latest example is its recent air strike on Lebanon.”
Ershadi underlined that these activities are gross violations of international law and the UN Charter and shall not go unpunished and that the UN must take a stand against Israel. “The Security Council must prevent Israel’s unbridled adventurism in the region. The Security Council must also prove that it is not trapped by Israel’s deceptions and fabrications,” Ershadi stated.
She once more rejected accusations leveled against Iran concerning the attack on Mercer Street. “We categorically reject the unfounded accusation of Israel on the Mercer Street vessel incident as we have written in our recent letter to the Council’s President. The Israeli regime cannot whitewash its destabilizing practices and vicious policies by blaming and accusing others. This regime has been the main source of threat, instability and insecurity in the region for over 7 decades. Its weapons of mass destruction continue to endanger the entire region. It is the sole possessor of nuclear weapons in the region. It is also the only non-party to the NPT in the region and its dangerous nuclear facilities and activities are not under the IAEA’s comprehensive safeguards,” Ershadi stated.
She also denounced the Israeli defense minister’s threat to attack Iran. “The Israeli regime also continues to brazenly threaten to use force against regional States. Again, yesterday its defense minister threatened to use force against Iran. Iran warns against any such adventurism and miscalculations. Yet, Iran will not hesitate to defend itself and secure its national interests,” Ershadi concluded.