Why Strait of Hormuz Is a Focus of Worry as Iran-Israel Conflict Flares

The Strait of Hormuz, a narrow waterway at the mouth of the Persian Gulf, is rarely far from the center of global tensions. A major shipping route that handles almost 30% of the world’s oil trade, it’s closely watched for signs of disruption. An escalation of the conflict between Iran and Israel has raised fresh concerns. Iran has repeatedly targeted merchant ships traversing the chokepoint over the years and has threatened to block transit in the past. On April 13, before launching a massive missile and drone assault on Israel, Iran said it had seized an Israeli-linked container ship near the strait.

Shaped like an inverted V, the waterway connects the Persian Gulf to the Indian Ocean, with Iran to its north and the United Arab Emirates and Oman to the south. It’s almost 100 miles (161 kilometers) long and 21 miles wide at its narrowest point, with the shipping lanes in each direction just two miles wide. Its shallow depth makes ships vulnerable to mines, and the proximity to land — Iran, in particular — leaves vessels open to attack from shore-based missiles or interception

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