Wednesday 16 March 2011

Israel Navy intercepts weapons ship bound for Gaza

The following news come from BICOM, the Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre. It highlights the need for Israel's continued blockade on Gaza.

Yesterday morning the Israeli Navy found several anti-ship missiles on board the cargo ship Victoria that was intercepted off the coast of Gaza. The ship was seized by an Israeli navy commando unit who boarded the Gaza bound vessel after receiving permission from the ship's captain. The commandos checked the cargo's certificates which originated from the Syrian port of Latakia. The ship departed from Syria, via Turkey, and was heading to the port of Alexandria in Egypt. The weapons from there were then to be unloaded and smuggled into Gaza. Following the interception, The IDF emphasised that neither Turkey nor Egypt were involved in the smuggling process.

Israel Navy Deputy Commander Rani Ben-Yehuda confirmed that the Navy found two Chinese made C-704 missiles that have a range of 35 kilometres onboard the ship. They also found instruction manuals in Farsi, which added evidence to the assumption that the missiles came from Iran. The army estimates that the ammunition on board the ship could reach 50 tons worth of weapons.

The cargo ship docked early this morning in the Israeli port of Ashdod and the IDF searched all the ship's contents which will be displayed to the media later today.

Should the source of these weapons prove to be Iran, it will show how Tehran is using political unrest in the Middle East to further increase its influence and back extremists in the region.

In related news, Egyptian security officials seized five trucks carrying weapons that came from Sudan and were heading to Gaza. The vehicles were intercepted on Egyptian territory near the border with Sudan. The trucks were carrying mortars, rocket propelled grenades, rifles and explosives.

For more details on the story go to the BICOM Briefing.

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