Our goal here was, first of all, to foil the delivery of deadly weapons from Iran to the terrorist organizations in Gaza. The second goal is to expose the true face of Iran.
(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a series of security consultations prior to approving the IDF action that began this morning (Wednesday, 5 March 2014). After the seizure of the ship, the Prime Minister spoke with Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon, IDF Chief-of-Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz and Mossad Director Tamir Pardo and praised them for the quality intelligence that led to the action and for the precision with the operation was carried out.
Prime Minister Netanyahu said: "I would like to commend the IDF, the intelligence services of the State of Israel and – of course – the navy commanders and personnel who carried out a perfect operation to intercept a secret Iranian weapons ship. At a time when it is talking to the major powers, Iran smiles and says all sorts of nice things, the same Iran is sending deadly weapons to terrorist organizations and is doing so via a ramified network of secret operations in order to send rockets, missiles and other deadly weapons that will be used to harm innocent citizens. This is the true Iran and this state cannot possess nuclear weapons. We will continue to whatever is necessary in order to defend Israel’s citizens."
Speaking in the US, PM Netanyahu said: "I congratulate the Defense Minister, the Chief-of-Staff, GOC Intelligence, the Director of the Mossad, GOC Navy and the soldiers. I congratulate them on a perfect action at sea, which was based on precise intelligence. Our goal here was, first of all, to foil the delivery of deadly weapons from Iran to the terrorist organizations in Gaza, weapons which would have endangered the security of Israeli citizens.
The second goal is to expose the true face of Iran. Iran is currently holding talks with the major powers, and is smiling, even as it grossly violates international law and arms terrorist organizations with equilibrium-changing weapons. This is what we are exposing to the world and have just done so in a very methodical way. We will release additional details later.
I think that a very important principle has found expression here, one that I have reiterated time and again, including in my talks in the US with President Obama and in my public appearances: Israel has the obligation and the right to defend itself by itself against any threat and, I add, anywhere. This is what we have done and this is what we will continue to do. And the second lesson is that such a state, a terrorist state par excellence, which sends deadly weapons to Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas, as well as to other terrorist organizations, such a state cannot be allowed to produce nuclear weapons."
Statement by Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon
(Communicated by International Media Advisor, Ministry of Defense)
"This morning, Wednesday March 5, 2014 Israeli naval Special Forces successfully intercepted and seized an Iranian arms vessel in the Red Sea, approximately 1,500 kilometers (930 miles) from the Israeli coast. Weapons of strategic significance were discovered on the Iranian vessel, including rockets capable of reaching various distances. The arms were destined to reach terror organizations in the Gaza Strip via Sudan. The IDF and Israeli intelligence’s interception of the vessel successfully prevented the smuggling of these weapons whose ultimate purpose was to target Israeli civilians and disrupt life in Israel.
It has once again become clear that Iran continues to be the greatest exporter of terror in the world, with the express purpose of destabilizing the Middle East. This, while in complete violation of international law and abuse of open maritime trading routes. Iran supplies financial support, arms and training to terror organizations in the region and around the world, and its failed effort to transfer the weapons discovered this morning, is additional evidence. The Iranian regime continues to deceive the world; while it shows its smiling face it continues to be the biggest threat to world peace.
This Iranian attempt to transfer weapons to the Gaza Strip is additional evidence that Gaza is a terrorist entity under Iranian auspices preparing to strike deep into Israel.
At this time, IDF forces are searching the shipping containers on board the Iranian vessel and questioning the crew, who do not appear to have been aware of the vessel’s contents.
I would like to express my appreciation to the IDF Chief of Staff and Commander of the Navy who commanded the operation; to the IDF Intelligence Corps, Naval Intelligence and the Mossad; to the IDF Air Force pilots who escorted the Naval ships en route to their objective; and to the sailors and commanders of the Navy’s missile boats and special forces who carried out their operation smoothly and professionally.
We will continue to act responsibly and with prudence, and take all necessary measures at our disposal to ensure the security of Israel’s citizens."
President Peres on the IDF capture of a weapon shipment to Gaza
(Communicated by the Office of the President)
President Shimon Peres, this afternoon (Wednesday, 5 March 2014), delivered a statement regarding the capture of a weapons shipment from Iran heading to the Gaza Strip and said:
"The capture of the ship carrying arms to Hamas was a brilliant military operation and an extremely important act. We can see the quality and courage of those who took part and we are proud of them. It is also an important message to the world, beginning with Iran. Iran must stop bluffing.
This operation exposes the true face of Iran which says one thing but does the opposite. They put on an innocent face and send the most dangerous missiles to a terror organization that kills innocents, in violation of international law. Iran must make up its mind either to tell the truth and respect international law or admit that it is all camouflage and we cannot trust their policy or declaration.
The same is true for Hamas. Does Hamas expect to sit in Gaza and shoot at civilians while Israel stands by and does nothing? I am not speaking out of fear but out of logic. We have nothing against the people of Gaza but why are Hamas shooting, why are they buying arms? The time has come for all responsible people to turn to Iran and Gaza and say, Stop!
For the sake of all those who want to live in peace. I want to send my congratulations to the army, to the commanders of our Navy, to the intelligence services and to the government for foiling this shipment so precisely and managing an operation without casualties."
President Peres spoke with Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon of Defense and IDF Chief-of-Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz and said, "This morning’s operation by the Israeli Navy was a crucial act. Congratulations to you, to the soldiers, to the commanders and to the intelligence services who took part in this operation. Every citizen of Israel should be proud of you all today."