The allegation by Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant comes as tensions between the regional foes surge anew over Iran’s nuclear advances, as well as the Islamic Republic’s support of its Palestinian and Lebanese terrorist proxies.
By Erin Viner
Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) is engaged in converting commercial ships into platforms for launching missiles, drones and commandos, said Jerusalem’s top defense official, alleging that Tehran’s goal is to proliferate its clandestine naval clout well beyond the Gulf.
Minister Gallant revealed the rogue nation’s “pirate policy” during an address at a conference hosted by the Institute for Policy and Strategy of Reichman University in Herzliya. He unveiled captured images of six repurposed Iranian vessels, including one that recently sailed toward the Gulf of Aden.
Detailing the Iranian secret strategy of transforming trading ships vessels into military vessels armed with offensive equipment such as UAVs and missile systems, as well as with advanced means for intelligence gathering far away from its own shores for extended periods of time.
“Iran is conducting itself like a collection of criminal organizations and not a modern state. The floating terror bases are an extension of Iran’s ongoing maritime terrorism, as seen in its actions in the Persian Gulf and Arabian Sea. Iran aims to expand its reach to the Indian Ocean, the Red Sea and even the shores of the Mediterranean. This is a structured plan designed to threaten trade and flight routes – both military and civilian – and to create a permanent threat in the maritime arena,” he charged.
In his discussion, Minister Gallant also addressed the measures required to contend with Iran’s regional aggression and the dangers posed by its nuclear development program.
“The way to confront Iranian terrorism in the air, at sea, and on land is through international cooperation and the creation of coalitions,” he insisted.
There was no immediate response from Iran.
As part of the “Shadow War” between the two archfoes, Iran and Israel have routinely accused the other over a series of unclaimed attacks on the high seas, as well as in the cyber sphere.
The Ayatollah regime has also blamed Israel for numerous incidents it said were designed to sabotage its nuclear development program, including the 2020 assassination of atomic scientist Dr. Mohsen Fakhrizade, a fire at the Natanz facility that same year and the Stuxnet computer virus – widely believed to have been developed by Israel and the US – that impaired centrifuges used to enrich uranium struck the same facility in 2010.
Additionally, Western intelligence sources say Israeli airstrikes against Iranian-linked targets inside Syria has escalated over the past year. Research centers for weapons development and munitions depots operated by IRGC have particularly been in the IDF’s crosshairs. Political and defense leaders in the Jewish State have repeatedly stated that Iran’s presence just over the northern frontier will not be tolerated.