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This morning Israeli naval vessels intercepted the Liberian-flagged cargo ship ‘Victoria’ about 200 miles west of the Israeli coast, after intelligence reports indicated the vessel could be carrying arms shipments destined for Gaza.
An initial investigation revealed the ship was loaded with C-704 anti-ship missiles – shore-to-sea missiles with a range of 35 km that could put at risk Israeli vessels at sea as well as strategic infrastructure targets near Ashkelon. Iran is known to possess and produce such missiles, which, along with identifying documents (including a missile identification document, below) gives substantial evidence of Iran’s involvement in the weapons smuggling attempt, and yet another example of Iran’s use of innocent merchant ships as a means of transferring arms to terrorist organizations.
By first daylight, naval commandos boarded the vessel and verified the existence of weaponry on board. Following the encounter with the Israeli Navy, the Victoria headed to an Israeli port of Ashdod for detailed inspection of its cargo. The vessel was on its way from Mersin Port in Turkey to Alexandria Port in Egypt. According to Israeli assessments, the true destination of the weapon shipment was probably the Egyptian port of El-Arish, from where the shipment would be smuggled on land, through tunnels, reaching terror organizations operating in the Gaza Strip.
Photo: IDF Spokesman (more photos)
Copyright © 2013, Penton