Here’s the IDF on yesterday’s seizure of the arms ship.
500 Tons of Weapons for Hezbollah Intercepted by Israeli Navy, 4 Nov 2009
Massive Arms Shipment Intended for Hezbollah Intercepted by Israel Navy
Roughly 500 tons of weapons, rockets, and missiles was uncovered aboard the cargo vessel “Francop” flying an Antiguan flag, which was intercepted and brought to the Ashdod port. The Israel Navy force which intercepted the ship included naval commandos, missile boats, intelligence and explosive experts.
36 shipping containers with 500 tons of weaponry were found on the ship disguised as civilian cargo, and hidden among hundreds of other containers onboard.
Israel Naval and Engineering Corps forces are currently unloading the containers and are sorting through the various types of weaponry found aboard.
The naval commando force boarded the vessel and conducted an initial search. The search was conducted in accordance with the usual search protocols as dictated by International Law.
Following the initial search and after it became clear that the vessel was carrying weapons, the vessel was directed by the Israel Navy to dock at the Israeli Ashdod Naval base for additional searches and a detailed inspection of the hull’s cargo. It should be emphasized that the captain of the ship agreed to the search. The Israel Navy conducted all activity without any force.
The weapons found onboard the ship originate from Iran, and were intended for the Hezbollah terror organization, for use against the State of Israel and its citizens. The weapons uncovered at sea last night constitute a harsh violation of UN Security Council Resolutions 1747 and 1701 that strictly forbid Iran from exporting or trading any form of weapons.
This is a well-known Iranian technique, taking advantage of cargo ships flying different flags in order to smuggle containers loaded with large amounts of highly volatile weaponry to terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah.
Following the necessary inspections of the boat, it is expected to be released.
The overnight operation was authorized by the Prime Minister and the Minister of Defense of the State of Israel. Commander of the Israel Navy, Maj. Gen. Eliezer Marom, commanded the operation from a forward command cell. The IDF Chief of the General Staff authorized the operation, after the confirmation of intelligence information gathered by the IDF.
Meanwhile, Israel’s Foreign Ministry has instructed employees to utilize this incident to direct international pressure toward Iran.
Because the threat of a nuclear holocaust just doesn’t seem to be enough for some people.
Updates (Israel time; most recent at top)
10:58PM: The IDF really has gotten it’s act together regarding the arms ship seizure.
Here’s a slideshow they have prepared showing the different types and amounts of weaponry on board.
In addition, the IDF has released pictures linking this weaponry with terrorism in Southern Lebanon.
Following denials from Hezbollah, the Syrian government, and others, regarding the destination of the weapons cargo onboard the ‘Francop,’ the IDF is releasing photos which prove this relationship. The photographs were taken during a rocket launching from Southern Lebanon at the Israeli Galilee region on Tuesday, 27 October 2009. The pictures clearly show that the rocket fired was a 107 millimeter rocket, the same types that were found on the ‘Francop’.
The pictures also explicitly show that the rocket was fired from a residential property, placing the local civilians in danger and using them as human shields.
Only one rocket was fired during the incident, exploding in an open area of the Ezba Hagalil region in Northern Israel. The pictures show other rockets which have yet to be launched.
6:15PM: He must be so proud.
Palestinian souvenir shop owner Tareq Abu Daia shows an embroidery scarf bearing the name of South African judge Richard Goldstone on sale at his store in Gaza City on November 4, 2009. The UN General Assembly is scheduled to discuss the controversial UN Goldstone report on Israel’s 22-day war against Palestinian militants in Gaza.
I’m sure they’ll sell out. Like Goldstone himself.
6:10PM: PA President Mahmoud Abbas stated he will not run for office in the 2010 presidential elections. But as usual, resigning is not an easy thing when you are a palestinian official.
The Fatah Central Committee announced later on Thursday that it had “unanimously rejected” Abbas’s resignation.
2:12PM: More on yesterday’s UN General Assembly debate on the Goldstone Report.
The United States on Wednesday openly eschewed a United Nations General Assembly debate on a resolution that would call on Israel and the Palestinians to investigate charges of war crimes during the Gaza war detailed in the Goldstone Commission’s report.
The nonbinding resolution on the Goldstone report, which looked certain to be approved by the 192-nation assembly, also requests that UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon submit the 575-page report to the Security Council.
U.S. Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice skipped the discussion and sent her deputy, Alejandro Wolff, as an observer instead.
In the assembly debate, Arab envoys praised the report by South African jurist Richard Goldstone and demanded an end to what they called the Israel’s impunity. But Israel damned the document as “conceived in hate and executed in sin.””
There is no veto in the assembly and the resolution looked sure to win a majority. But with more than 40 envoys listed to speak, most of them from Arab and other Muslim countries, it was unclear when the vote would take place.
Israel’s ally the United States was one of a small number of countries expected to vote against the resolution. In a clear warning to the administration, the U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday urged President Barack Obama to oppose UN endorsement of Goldstone’s findings.
Most members of the 27-nation European Union were likely to abstain, although diplomats said negotiations were underway with the Arabs to agree a text the Europeans could support.
The diplomats said the EU opposed the resolution’s implicit endorsement of the Goldstone report, which Western states have called flawed, although making important points.
Representing the EU, Ambassador Anders Liden of Sweden, the bloc’s current president, called the report serious and urged Israel and the Palestinians to launch “appropriate, credible and independent investigations” into its charges.
Meanwhile, here is the address of Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Gabriela Shalev.
I’m not really a fan of Shalev’s style (Gillerman was way better), but what a great line: “The report before you was conceived in hate and executed in sin.”
2:02PM: Hizbullah are full-of-bull-ah:
In a statement issued by the Lebanese organization, Hezbollah denied any link to “the weapons that the Zionist enemy claims it confiscated from the ship.”
But at least they’re funny:
In addition, the terrorist organization condemned “the Israeli pirates operating in international waters.”
9:25AM: The IDF has also published this list of past Iranian attempts to smuggle weapons.
December 2001 – The Karin A ship, loaded with weapons in Iran, bound for the Gaza Strip, was sailing towards Egypt with the intention of unloading its cargo there. Small fishing boats were meant to pick up the cargo and deliver it to the Gaza Strip. The ship, loaded with rockets, anti-tank rockets, and light arms, was seized on January 3rd, 2002 by Israeli Naval Commandos.
Weaponry found on the Karin A
December 2003 – January 2004 – The Iranian Revolutionary Guard directed an aerial convoy to transfer weapons and supplies to Hezbollah via Syria. The aerial convoys were disguised as humanitarian aid intended for casualties of an earthquake in Bam, a city in southern Iran. The Iranians took advantage of the open airspace by trying to smuggle weapons to Hezbollah while humanitarian aid flights were landing in Iran from all over the world.
May 2007 – An Iranian train carrying arms (mortar shells, light arms, rocket launchers and ammunition) was uncovered in Turkey. The arms were intended for Hezbollah. The Iranians attempted to conceal and disguise the arms in order to avoid suspicion by the Turkish authorities.
January 2009 – An arms shipment sent by Iran was intercepted and seized in Cyprus after it was found on the Cypriot vessel Monchegorsk which had been leased by the Iranian Irisl shipping company. The Cargo was found to include tank, artillery and mortar shells as well as materials to be used for producing rockets.
October 2009 – The Hansa India, which sailed from Iran flying a German flag was due to unload a cargo of eight containers in Egypt. Following warnings from the German authorities the vessel was not unloaded and continued to Malta where it was seized and found to be carrying bullets and industrial material intended for the production of weapons, seemingly bound for Syria.
7:58AM: From the Whatcha Talkin Bout Willis Department:
US President Barack Obama is Israel’s “closest friend,” contrary to what many Israelis seem to believe in recent polls, US Ambassador James Cunningham told a Tel Aviv audience on Wednesday.