US and regional officials have accused Israel of targeting "at least a dozen" tankers bound for Syria and mostly carrying Iranian oil due to concerns that petroleum profits were funding extremists, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.
The report alleged that since 2019, Israel has been using naval weapons, including water mines, to strike vessels which were either Iranian, or carried Iranian cargo, as they made their way to Syria.
The report said that while most of the tankers carried oil, some of the targeted vessels have made efforts to move other cargo, including weaponry.
According to Greenpeace, Iranian oil tankers routinely violate trade embargoes on Iran and Syria to smuggle oil into Syria through the Suez Canal. The organization said that the practice of turning off tracking systems is also commonly done such vessels, to avoid detection for violating the trade embargo.
The practice is so common in fact, that between August of 2018 and July of 2019, Syria received around 17 million barrels of crude oil from Iran this way.
The WSJ report added that other ways that these ships avoid international scrutiny is through the declaration of false destinations, transferal of oil from one ship to another at sea, or through the use of old, rusted tankers which are harder to detect.
The report comes after Israel's Environmental Protection Minister Gila Gamliel accused Iran of "eco-terrorism," blaming the country for a recent oil spill which likely came from an Iranian tanker.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz said that the Israeli defense establishment had no evidence to suggest that Iran deliberately caused the oil spill.