The commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s navy, Alireza Tangsiri, warned Sunday that “any illegitimate presence by the Zionists in the waters of the Persian Gulf could spark a war.”
His remark followed reports on Israel potentially taking part in a US-led international mission to secure Western vessels crossing the Strait of Hormuz, after Iran seized several oil tankers, amid escalating tensions over US sanctions on the Islamic Republic.
In an interview to the Hezbollah-affiliated Al-Mayadeen television station in Lebanon, Tangsiri warned that “whenever our commanders wish so, they are able to detain any ship, even if it is accompanied by American and British forces.”
Last week, the Ynet news site reported that Foreign Minister Israel Katz had told a closed session of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that Israel was involved in US-led efforts to provide maritime security in the Strait of Hormuz.
Katz said Israel was assisting the mission to secure the crucial waterway with intelligence and in other unspecified fields. He stressed the mission was in Israel’s strategic interest of countering Iran and boosting ties with Gulf countries.
Responding to Katz’s comments, Iran’s defense minister on Thursday said that the formation of a US-led flotilla would “increase insecurity” and any Israeli involvement would have “disastrous consequences” for the region.
Tehran and Washington have been locked in a battle of nerves since US President Donald Trump withdrew from a landmark 2015 nuclear deal with Iran last year and reimposed sanctions.
Tensions have soared in the region, with drones downed and tankers mysteriously attacked in Gulf waters.