On Tuesday (15 March), IDF Navy fighters intercepted the cargo vessel "Victoria" loaded with various weaponry as part of routine activity to prevent arms smuggling. The Victoria carried as much as 50 tons of weapons intended for the use of terror organizations operating in the Gaza Strip.
– Behind the Headlines: The Victoria arms-smuggling incident
(Communicated by the IDF Spokesperson)
IDF Navy fighters intercepted the cargo vessel "Victoria" loaded with various weaponry. The vessel, flying under a Liberian flag, was intercepted some 200 miles west of Israel’s coast. This incident was part of the Navy’s routine activity to maintain security and prevent arms smuggling, in light of IDF security assessments. The force was met with no resistance from the crew on-board.
IDF presents Iranian weaponry on Victoria
The IDF presented the Iraninan weaponry found on Victoria on Wednesday (March 16), after the ship docked in Ashdod the previous evening. In three large cargo containers, six ready-to-be-launched C-704 ani-ship missiles were found, aong with two launchers, two exterior launchers and two launch pads.
Additionally, 230 mortar shells sized 60 to 120-mm with a range of 10 kilometers were found, 2,260 mortar shells of the same size but with a range of 2.5 kilometers and as many as 74,889 bullets for AK-47 rifles. The weaponry was concealed behind sacs of lentils and cotton, spread throughout 36 containters overall.
"The interception of this weapons-carrying ship gives an answer to all those who were dubious, attacked and criticized Israel about intercepting ships attempting to reach the Gaza Strip," stressed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. "To all those who have asked, attacked and criticized Israel for stopping and searching ships destined for Gaza, well here is the clearest possible answer, here, today in Ashdod, why it is our duty, not just our right, to stop and disarm such ships. They passed through Syria and were en route to terrorists in the Gaza Strip."
– PM Netanyahu’s remarks at display of weaponry from the Victoria
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: "Very early this morning, I approved the Navy’s interception of the Victoria. We had a solid basis that onboard the ship was weaponry destined for use against Israel. Considerable weaponry – which was destined for terrorist forces in the heart of Gaza – was found onboard the vessel. The operation was carried out at sea in accordance with all international rules and our right under international law to stop weapons smuggling directed against our citizens.
The weaponry originated in Iran, which is continuing to try and arm terrorist forces that operate against the State of Israel. It is our right and our duty to do our utmost to stop this supply effort. We can say for certain is that the weaponry originated in Iran, which has a relay station in Syria. This is the main axis that also supplies terrorist forces in Lebanon, Hizbullah, and terrorist forces in Gaza."
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Defense Minister Ehud Barak: "Today, the IDF and its fighters thwarted the smuggling of weaponry – which was due to have been used against the residents of Israel – to the Gaza Strip. The goal of the smuggling was to harm the security of Israel. The IDF acted in weaponry to Gaza shows that radical elements are continuing in their attempts to attack Israel and undermine regional stability."order to defend the security of the country. The attempt to smuggle