An Israeli-owned commercial vessel was attacked by an Iranian drone in the Indian Ocean on Friday, the Associated Press reported, citing a U.S. defense official.
The attack on the CMA CGM Symi container ship, which caused no injuries, came a week after Yemen’s Iranian-backed Houthi rebels hijacked an Israeli-linked ship in the Red Sea.
The defense official told AP on condition of anonymity that the Malta-flagged Symi was targeted by a triangle-shaped, bomb-carrying Shahed-136 drone while traveling in international waters.
The “suicide” drone caused damage to the ship but no casualties among the crew, said the report.
It added that the ship’s Automatic Identification System tracker had been switched off since departing Dubai’s Jebel Ali port on Tuesday, indicating the crew believed the vessel could be targeted.
The crew had also shut off the system previously when traveling through the Red Sea past Yemen.
The Symi is registered to Singapore-based Eastern Pacific Shipping, which is controlled by Israeli billionaire Idan Ofer.
CMA CGM, a French shipping and logistics firm, is the third-largest container shipping line company in the world, operating hundreds of shipping lines.
In November 2022, an Iranian-made drone was used to attack the Liberian-flagged commercial oil tanker Pacific Zircon off the coast of Oman. The vessel was also owned by Eastern Pacific Shipping.
“This unmanned aerial vehicle attack against a civilian vessel in this critical maritime strait demonstrates, once again, the destabilizing nature of Iranian malign activity in the region,” said CENTCOM commander Gen. Michael Kurilla at the time.
Iran has targeted numerous ships in recent years, including, in July 2021, the Mercer Street, an oil tanker with connections to Idan Ofer’s brother Eyal. The ship’s captain and a security officer were killed in the attack.
On Sunday, the Israel Defense Forces confirmed that the Houthis hijacked the Galaxy Leader vehicle carrier in the Red Sea, calling it a “very grave incident of global consequence.”
“The ship departed Turkey on its way to India, staffed by civilians of various nationalities, not including Israelis. It is not an Israeli ship,” the military added.
The Bahaman-flagged Galaxy Leader is registered by a British company partially owned by Israeli tycoon Abraham Ungar.
The Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem released a statement confirming the ship was being operated by a Japanese firm and had 25 crew members on board from Ukraine, Bulgaria, the Philippines and Mexico.
“This is another act of Iranian terrorism and constitutes a leap forward in Iran’s aggression against the citizens of the free world, with international consequences regarding the security of the global shipping lanes,” the Prime Minister’s Office said.
On Monday, the Houthis published a four-minute propaganda video showing a helicopter adorned with the flags of Yemen and the Palestine Liberation Organization landing on the Galaxy Leader.
At least eight armed terrorists, some wearing bandanas featuring a photo of Hamas spokesperson Abu Obeida, emerge from the chopper and take control of the vessel, pointing their weapons at the civilian crew as they shout “Allahu Akbar.”
Israel has bolstered its naval presence in the Red Sea area following repeated missile and drone attacks from Yemen.
The IDF said that missile boats were deployed “in accordance with the assessment of the situation, and as part of the increased defense efforts in the region.”
On Nov. 9, Houthi rebels fired a ballistic missile at Eilat, which was intercepted by Israel’s Arrow 3 in the aerial-defense system’s first operational use.
On Oct. 31, Israel’s Arrow 2 air defense system for the first time intercepted a surface-to-surface missile fired from the Red Sea area.
Moreover, dozens of U.S. troops have been wounded in more than 60 attacks on American assets in Iraq and Syria since Oct. 17, the Pentagon confirmed this week.
On Friday morning, a four-day ceasefire between Israel and the Hamas terrorist organization went into effect in the Gaza Strip.