(Communicated by the IDF Spokesperson)
The IDF and the Foreign Ministry invited ambassadors and diplomats from 44 countries and military attaches from 27 military forces around the world to an IDF base in central Israel in order to witness the large quantities of armaments and ammunition that had been found on the "Francop" ship in the early hours of Wednesday.
The guests heard analyses from senior IDF officers, as well as from Foreign Ministry Director-General Yossi Gal.
A senior intelligence officer presented information regarding the destination of the weapons – Syria and Lebanon – and their potential use by terrorist organizations. The officer also gave details on the central role that Iran plays in its activities to train and arm terrorist elements in the Middle East.
Israel Navy deputy commander, Rear Admiral Rani Ben-Yehuda described the naval smuggling phenomenon in the region as well as the methods used in boarding the "Francop" and in locating the armaments hidden on the ship, which included rockets used by Hizbullah.
The head of the Strategic Division, Brigadier-General Yossi Heiman, emphasized the importance of international cooperation and the active involvement of states around the world in preventing terrorism and arms smugglings, noting "the Francop incident is a part of the struggle between the different camps in the Middle East. Weapons smuggling carried out by sovereign states like Iran and Syria allows radical elements, such as Hizbullah and Hamas, to undermine the stability of Lebanon, the Palestinian Authority and other states in the region. The nature of war has changed in recent years, and the international community has not yet developed the legal and operational capabilities to deal with these new threats."
Iranian arms smuggling – Briefing by FM Director-General Gal and the IDF
(Communicated by the Foreign Ministry Spokesperson)
Today, the Foreign Ministry and the IDF briefed dozens of foreign diplomats and military attaches at the IDF base where the Iranian weapons seized from the "Francop" ship are being stored.
The diplomats and military attaches toured the facility, where they could see with their own eyes the weapons’ containers that had been seized and the camouflage methods that had been used. They witnessed the amount and variety of weapons that had been found on their way from Iran to terrorist organizations and Syria, the state that supports these groups. At the conclusion of the visit, FM Director-General Yosef Gal and senior Israeli army and navy officers briefed the visitors.
In his remarks, Director-General Gal referred to the cynical use Iran makes of innocent states by hiding behind their flags and called for international action to stop terrorist activities organized and supported by Iran and its henchmen.
The Director-General emphasized that Israel will continue to defend its citizens under its right of self-defense and its duty to protect its citizens, just as every other responsible state does. He added that the threat is not only to Israel, but is a strategic threat to the stability and peace of the world and to every state attempting to live in peace and security. He call on the world’s government to focus on the true threat to international peace, which was reflected in the weaponry that had been caught.
From remarks by Director-General Gal:
Whoever still needed the proof of what so many different elements in the international community have been talking about, proof that Iran and its proxies in the region are arming themselves, the relationship between Iran and terrorist organizations, the relationship between Iran and Hizbullah and Hamas, I think received that proof today in a very clear and very loud way. And, ladies and gentlemen, the likes of these pieces of weaponry that you have seen are exactly the ones that are being used to attack our civilian population, to attack innocent Israeli people.
What you have seen is the largest arms delivery ever apprehended by Israel, and this is just one shipment. Among the many pieces are about 3,000 rockets. Now, just by comparison, a total of 4,000 rockets were launched during the Second Lebanese War – just to give you get an impression of the volume.
You have heard the figures, you have heard the numbers, you have seen it for yourselves. What are the messages? One is that under the guise of legitimate commerce and by using either ships or flags or ports of innocent, blameless countries, in this case the flag was that of Antigua and Barbuda, Iran is turning the seas into a basis for its activities. We think that responsible countries should take measures to protect themselves first and foremost, to protect their companies, to protect the civilian maritime activity, as put forth in all of the UN Security Council resolutions. We think also that the international community must act in a resolute way against these efforts by Iran and by its proxies, and try to bring a halt to these kind of activities.
You can add to all that you have seen here today the recent test-fire by Hamas of a rocket with an extended range of 60 kilometers, which serves as yet another example of the danger posed by the proxies of Iran and the other terrorist elements in this part of the world.
The third message is that this country, Israel, will continue to protect its citizens and will continue to act in self-defense. This is our obligation to our people. And what we have done is exactly what any other member of the international community, a responsible member of the international community, would do.
So let there be no doubt that we will continue to act in self-defense, and we will continue to provide this self-defense to our people and to our citizens. But the threat is not confined to Israel. The threat posed here is a strategic one. The threat posed here is one to world peace and to world stability and to all of the regimes and the others in this part of the world that are trying – and you know we have been trying – to live in peace and security with everybody else.
And last but not least, instead of endless deliberations in international forums aimed embarrassing Israel or attacking it for acting in self-defense or acting in order to protect its citizens, I think that our attention should be focused on the real threat that you have witnessed here to peace and security, not only of this country but of this region and of the entire world.