Iran’s Recent Attack on an Israeli Vessel Has Revealed Israel’s Maritime Vulnerability

March 4, 2021 | Alex Fishman
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Last week, the Helios Ray, a ship owned by an Israeli company, was struck by a missile fired either by the Iranian military or one of its many proxy groups. Alex Fishman comments:

Whoever dispatched a missile at the cargo ship could have launched multiple missiles that would have caused far greater damage. But that would have been considered an act of war by the United States and all other nations responsible for safe travel in the Gulf waters.

The Helios Ray sails under the Bahaman flag, is not registered in Israel, and is not manned by an Israeli crew. Unlike Israeli vessels flying the Israeli flag, the cargo ship was not protected by the country’s security services. Iran’s efforts to hit vulnerable Israeli targets on the high seas are not new and have intensified since the assassination of the Islamic Republic’s chief nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh last November.

The vessel that was targeted last week belongs to a company owned by the Israeli businessman Rami Unger. This fact is displayed on maritime websites along with other details about the ship, which always uses the same route when it makes its way to the Far East. The boat left the southern Israeli port of Eilat in early February, carrying cargo for Saudi Arabia and Dubai, and was likely under surveillance since then. It was attacked as it entered the Gulf of Oman, an advantageous location for Iran’s navy, to convey a message to Jerusalem that Israeli interests in the area could be compromised.

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