An Israeli-owned ship, the MV HELIOS RAY, was hit by an explosion in the Gulf of Oman overnight Thursday and a US defense official said the blast left holes in both sides of the vessel's hull. The Gulf of Oman leads through the narrow Strait of Hormuz, a vital passage for the world's oil supplies.
Emirati officials did not respond to requests for comment on the vessel docking in the country.
Meanwhile, as President Joe Biden tries to revive nuclear negotiations with Iran, he ordered overnight airstrikes on facilities in Syria belonging to an Iranian-backed Iraqi militia.
Another private security official, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters, similarly identified the ship as the Helios Ray. It was en route to Singapore from Saudi Arabia when the blast occurred.
Netanyahu's remarks came hours after Syrian air defences intercepted what they said were Israeli missiles over Damascus, in an area where Iranian Revolutionary Guards and their Hezbollah allies are believed to be present.
The blast comes as Tehran increasingly breaches its 2015 nuclear accord with world powers to create leverage over Washington.
Netanyahu supported Trump's withdrawal from the deal but said in his Monday remarks that he had spoken to Biden about the Iran issue.
The Helios Ray had discharged cars at various ports in the Persian Gulf before making its way out of the Middle East toward Singapore.
It remains unclear what caused the blast, but the incident comes amid sharply rising tension between the US and Iran over its unravelling 2015 nuclear deal.
The vessel came loaded with cargo from Europe. A USA defence official in Washington said the blast left holes above the waterline in both sides of the hull.
It did cause "two holes about a meter and a half (five feet) in diameter" in damage, he said, without elaborating.
The ship is owned by a Tel Aviv company called Ray Shipping through a company registered in the Isle of Man, according to a United Nations shipping database. He made his fortune in shipping and construction. Iran has denied carrying out the attacks.
"I think it is part of the game between Iran and the United States, that's why they are hitting Western ships", he said.
While the circumstances of the explosion remain unclear, Dryad Global said it was very possible the blast stemmed from "asymmetric activity by Iranian military".
Trump had reimposed sanctions on Tehran and blamed Iran for attacks on other ships in Gulf waters, notably two vessels carrying two Saudi oil tankers in May 2019. Israeli media says the airstrikes were against Iranian targets and carried out in response to the ship attack.
Iranian threats of retaliation have raised alarms in Israel since the signing of normalization deals with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain in September. The agreements, met with scathing criticism from Iran, solidified an emerging regional alliance against the Islamic Republic.