April 13, 2024 | Flash Brief

Iran Seizes Israel-Linked Ship

April 13, 2024 | Flash Brief

Iran Seizes Israel-Linked Ship

Latest Developments

Iran seized an Israeli-linked, Portuguese-flagged commercial ship in the Strait of Hormuz on April 13. Members of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) boarded the MSC Aries by helicopter in open waters and commandeered the cargo vessel with 25 crew members. Gortal Shipping Inc, an affiliate of Zodiac Maritime which is partly owned by Israeli businessman Eyal Ofer, leases the MSC Aires.

Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz called on the European Union to sanction Iran, since the seized ship belongs to an EU member state. Katz said Iran is “a criminal regime that supports Hamas’s crimes and is now conducting a pirate operation in violation of international law.”

The seizure followed Tehran’s threats to close the Strait of Hormuz, between Iran and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), as part of Iran’s pressure campaign against the UAE relationship with Israel. The region is also bracing for a threatened Iranian attack on Israel to avenge the killing of two IRGC generals and several other militants in Damascus, Syria on April 1.              

Expert Analysis

“After almost two weeks of anticipation, Iran may have delivered its retaliation in the form of this high-seas-seizure of a ship with peripheral links to Israel. Or, alternatively, this action is meant to drop Israel’s guard before the actual attack comes. In any event, after months of Houthi piracy, now Iran itself is taking part in such outrages — and any plausible deniability Iran might have had is now gone.” — Mark Dubowitz, FDD CEO

“Whether or not the seizure of the MSC Aries constitutes Iran’s attempt at revenge or punishment remains to be seen. But what is known is that, even prior to the killing of Brigadier General Zahedi in Damascus, and even before the Israeli response to the October 7 terrorist attack, the IRGC Navy had a track record of harassing commercial vessels and even seizing them as leverage. Afterall, Tehran’s support for terrorism does not stop at water’s edge.” — Behnam Ben Taleblu, FDD Senior Fellow

CENTCOM Commander Lands in Israel Amid Iran Threats,” FDD Flash Brief

Israel to Iran: Any Direct Attack Will Be Answered in Kind,” FDD Flash Brief

Houthis Target Israel and International Shipping,” FDD Flash Brief


Gulf States Iran Iran Sanctions Israel Israel at War