Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Israeli Special Forces Seize Arms Container Ship

Accuses Iran and Syria of Attempting to Equip Militants
Shipping News Feature

ISRAEL – An Israeli naval special forces team yesterday boarded and seized a ship carrying over sixty tons of weapons off of the coast of Cyprus which it alleges was destined to go to arming Hezbollah and Hamas for attacks to ‘undermine peace in the Middle East’.

The Antigua registered Francop was intercepted 100 miles off of the west coast of Israel and upon inspection was found to be carrying a substantial quantity of rockets and anti-tank missiles disguised as civilian cargo. The vessel is operated by Cypriot-based shipping line United Feeder Services. The company has yet to issue a statement.

The vessel is now docked in the Israeli port of Ashdod whilst its cargo is offloaded and inspected. According to the Israeli military the crew were unaware of the contraband.

Speaking of the seizure Israel’s President, Shimon Peres, said that: “The IDF today successfully intercepted a ship that was apparently en route from Iran to Syria and Hezbollah. Although all the parties deny it, the entire world is today witness to the wide gap between what Syria and Iran say and what they in fact do.

"The actions of Iran and Syria contradict all international law. Both Iran and Syria are continuously arming the terrorist organizations, first and foremost Hezbollah and Hamas, and are clearly working to undermine peace in the Middle East. The interception of the arms ship is of the highest importance in military terms, but also has political importance. No one can argue with facts. This is an important achievement for the army and for the entire State of Israel”.

This seizure is the latest in a series of such incidents which do indicate that Iran is actively attempting to smuggle large quantities of arms and munitions to the terrorist organisations.

If true, the large quantities of anti-tank weapons reportedly in this latest shipment will alarm Israeli defence officials who saw many casualties caused by such missiles amongst the IDF’s tank and armoured vehicle crews in the 2006 Lebanon campaign.