Israeli, US militaries simulate ship hijacking amid tensions

This undated image made from a video provided by the IRGC/IRIB shows a ship in the Persian Gulf. Iranian forces seized the ship, which it suspected of carrying smuggled fuel, state media reported Sunday, Aug. 4, 2019. (IRGC/IRIB via AP)

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel's military said Tuesday it has conducted a joint exercise with U.S. Special Forces simulating the retaking of a hijacked ship.

The drill comes amid heightened tensions between the U.S. and Iran in the Persian Gulf and efforts by the Trump administration to set up a naval security mission to protect shipping in the Strait of Hormuz. Israel considers Iran to be its greatest enemy.

The Persian Gulf has seen six attacks on oil tankers in recent weeks amid a growing confrontation between the United States and Iran in the wake of President Donald Trump's withdrawal from the nuclear agreement between world powers and Tehran over a year ago.

The U.S. has blamed the attacks, along with the downing of an American surveillance drone in the Persian Gulf, on Iran. Iran has denied involvement in the tanker attacks.

Israeli officials said the two militaries "exercised regaining control of a hijacked ship and extracting forces from enemy territory." Footage released by the army showed commandos parachuting and rappelling onto a ship and storming a container ship-like vessel during the exercise, dubbed "Naval Rose."

The exercise was held last Wednesday, but details were only announced by the military on Tuesday.

The army said the drill had no connection to recent events and was planned as part of its annual training plan.