Archive photo: IDF (Zahal) Spokesperson
The IDF (Zahal) intercepted a ship to Egypt discovered to be smuggling weapons for use by terror organizations in the Gaza Strip
Date: 15/03/2011, 12:56 PM Author: IDF (Zahal) Website
On Tuesday morning (Mar. 15), IDF (Zahal) Navy fighters intercepted the cargo vessel Victoria which was loaded with 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 (Zahal) security assessments.
Security forces were met with no resistance from the crew on-board.
The Israeli Navy is now leasing the vessel to an Israeli port for further, detailed inspection of the cargo.
The vessel was on its way from Mersin Port in Turkey to Alexandria Port in Egypt.
According to assessments, the various weapons on board the vessel were intended to be used by terror organizations operating in the Gaza Strip.
The IDF (Zahal) would like to note that Turkey is not tied to the incident in any way.
The operation was approved, understood to be necessary and carried out according to government instruction following the Chief of the General Staff’s recommendations.
Earlier on Tuesday morning, Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz updated the Minister of Defense, Ehud Barak, about the findings on board the vessel.
The IDF (Zahal) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs were alerted German authorities about Victoria’s interception as the ship was German property. In addition, the government of Liberia, whose flag it was flying under, was notified, as well as France because of its French shipping company.
The operation was under the command of Commander of the IDF (Zahal) Navy, Maj. Gen. Eliezer Marom, and the interception was under the command of Special Navy Forces Commander.
The vessel’s crew and content will be transferred to an Israeli port for questioning and further inspection.
The IDF (Zahal) will continue its intelligence and operational activities in order to maintain Israel’s security and prevent arms smuggling that will fuel the terror and strengthen its infrastructure in the Gaza Strip and in Lebanon.
According to shipment documents and crew questioning, the vessel initially departed from Lattakia Port in Syria and then proceeded to Mersin Port in Turkey. Turkey has no connection to this incident regarding weaponry uncovered on board.
IDF (Zahal) Spokesman, Brig. Gen. Avi Benayahu said on Tuesday that the interception of the ship took place after lengthy surveillance.
It is proper to link the event with the arrival of two Iranian warships at the Lattakia Port in Syria last month. Brig. Gen. Benayahu noted that there is no doubt that there is a connection between Syria, Iran and terrorist organizations. Brig. Gen. Benayahu emphasized that “every rocket that we take off the boat won’t fall in Israeli territory.”