Iran Quietly Replaced 'Saviz' Spy Ship in Red Sea

Iranian Ship Saviz after it was attacked last April (AP)
Iranian Ship Saviz after it was attacked last April (AP)
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Iran Quietly Replaced 'Saviz' Spy Ship in Red Sea

Iranian Ship Saviz after it was attacked last April (AP)
Iranian Ship Saviz after it was attacked last April (AP)

The US was monitoring Iranian ship movements in the Middle East as Tehran quietly replaced a spy ship, Saviz, in the Red Sea damaged in an April attack, two US officials told CNN.

Tehran towed the vessel back to port and brought a similar one to gather intelligence in the waterway amid escalating regional tensions and an ongoing maritime shadow conflict between Israel and Iran.

The Iranian ship registered as a general cargo vessel, Behshad, left the port of Bandar Abbas in early July, reaching its destination nine days later, according to satellite imagery provided to CNN in a report from ImageSat International, an Israeli satellite and intelligence company, which tracked the ship's journey.

Behshad stopped near the Bab el-Mandeb strait, a crucial waterway that controls access to the Red Sea and the Suez Canal.

A few days later, Saviz, another Iranian ship registered as a cargo vessel that had been patrolling those waters for five years, began its journey back to Iran, accompanied by two tugs.

The ships are currently south of Oman, based on satellite images from ImageSat.

The two officials explained that Saviz was listed as a cargo ship and used by Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) to gather intelligence in the critical waterway and assist Iran's Houthi allies in Yemen.

Former President Donald Trump sanctioned both the Saviz and the Behshad in 2018 as part of his maximum pressure campaign on Iran.

In an early April attack, the ship sustained damage when an Israeli commando attached an explosive to its side.

Iran admitted the attack, and its media published pictures of flames and smoke rising from the wrecked ship in the Red Sea.

A US official announced that Tel Aviv informed Washington of the attack, which they described as a retaliation for the previous Iranian strikes on Israeli ships, pointing out that Saviz was damaged underwater.

The US Naval Institute published a report in October 2020 that asserted the Saviz was a covert military ship operated by the IRGC.

The report said that uniformed men were present on board and that a boat type used by the Revolutionary Guards, with a hull similar to a Boston Whaler, was on the ship's deck.

The attack with the limpet mine, which is an explosive attached to the side of a ship, often just below the waterline, came as international negotiators were making progress on a return to the Iranian nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which Israel openly opposes.

The maritime shadow conflict between Iran and Israel reached new heights last week with the drone attack on Mercer Street, a Liberian-flagged tanker with ties to an Israeli shipping billionaire.

A Romanian and a Briton were killed in the attack off the coast of Oman, which the US, UK, and others have blamed on Iran.

Iran has denied any involvement in the attack but the US has called for a coordinated response against Tehran.

Tensions also escalated last Wednesday when Iranian gunmen seized the Asphalt Princess ship off the coast of the United Arab Emirates for several hours.

On Thursday, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz responded "yes" when asked by a media outlet whether Israel was ready to attack Iran. However, Gantz and other Israeli officials have stressed the need for a united diplomatic front against Tehran.

Saeed Khatibzadeh, the spokesman for Iran's foreign ministry, wrote on Twitter on Thursday that any Israeli military action against the country would be met with a "decisive" response.

Khatibzadeh called the Israeli threat of military action a "brazen violation of international law" and warned, "don't test us."



Danish Parliament Rejects Proposal to Recognize Palestinian State

Students gather near banners at an encampment at the University of Copenhagen's City Campus, at the old Municipal Hospital amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas, in Copenhagen, Denmark, May 6, 2024. (Reuters)
Students gather near banners at an encampment at the University of Copenhagen's City Campus, at the old Municipal Hospital amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas, in Copenhagen, Denmark, May 6, 2024. (Reuters)
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Danish Parliament Rejects Proposal to Recognize Palestinian State

Students gather near banners at an encampment at the University of Copenhagen's City Campus, at the old Municipal Hospital amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas, in Copenhagen, Denmark, May 6, 2024. (Reuters)
Students gather near banners at an encampment at the University of Copenhagen's City Campus, at the old Municipal Hospital amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas, in Copenhagen, Denmark, May 6, 2024. (Reuters)

Denmark's parliament rejected a proposal to recognize a Palestinian state on Tuesday, backing the government's view that the necessary conditions were not in place, despite a decision by Spain, Ireland and Norway to endorse independence.

Israel, which has found itself increasingly isolated after more than seven months of conflict with the Palestinian Hamas movement, which rules Gaza, has reacted furiously to the European moves.

The Danish bill had been proposed by four left-wing parties.

Sascha Faxe, member of parliament for The Alternative, said recognizing a Palestinian state was the only way to achieve lasting peace in the Middle East.

"The vast majority of Danish politicians agree that there will be no lasting peace in the Middle East without a two-state solution," she said in parliament, adding that she saw recognition as a way to give rights to ordinary Palestinians.

Foreign Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen had previously said the Danish government could not recognize a Palestinian state because it did not have a single functioning authority or control over its own territory.

Rasmussen did not take part in Tuesday's debate but has said he hopes Denmark will one day be able to give its backing to a Palestinian state.  

Earlier, the University of Copenhagen said it would halt investment in companies that do business in the occupied West Bank amid student protests pressuring the campus to cut financial and institutional ties with Israel.

Hundreds of students began campus protests in early May to express their opposition to Israel's operations in Gaza that were triggered by deadly attacks by Hamas in Israel on Oct. 7. The students have demanded that the university cuts academic ties with Israel and divests from companies operating in occupied Palestinian territories.

The university will, as of May 29, divest its holdings worth a total of about 1 million Danish crowns ($145,810) in Airbnb, Booking.com and eDreams, it said in a post on social media platform X.

The university said it would work with fund managers to manage its investments and ensure they comply with a United Nations list of companies involved in illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

The University of Copenhagen has a yearly revenue of over 10 billion crowns, some of which is invested in bonds and equities.

Israel captured territories in the West Bank, east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip after winning a 1967 war with neighboring Arab states.