Photo Credit: AlfvanBeem via Wikimedia
Iranian oil tanker approaching the port of Rotterdam, Holland.

Iranian Defense Minister Amir Hatami warned Israel on Wednesday not to act against its oil shipments, which are being sanctioned by the United States. “If it happens, we will firmly respond,” he said.

Iran has also threatened to block the Strait of Hormuz, a major artery in the world of oil commerce, if the U.S. attempts to block oil exports from Tehran.

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Last week Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told naval officers at a ceremony that Iran is continuing to smuggle fuel shipments abroad and evade the U.S. sanctions.

“The Iranian armed forces have certainly the capabilities to protect the country’s shipping lines in the best way against any possible threat,” said Hatami, according to the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA).

In recent years Iran has dispatched vessels to the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden, and according to Reuters, they also intervened on Friday to repel pirates who attacked an Iranian oil tanker in the Gulf of Aden.

“We never welcome any war, but we are ready to respond to any invasion. We hope the aggressors do not need to understand this point by trying it and paying a high price,” Major General Gholamali Rashid said, according to the Tasnim news agency.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.