IDF Chief of Staff: Iran Weapons Smuggling Reveals Constant Efforts to Arm Terrorists

IDF (Zahal) forces seized an Iranian weapons shipment intended for terrorists in the Gaza Strip early Wednesday morning. A few hours later, IDF (Zahal) Chief of the General Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz discussed the intense intelligence work that went into the successful operation, and Iran’s role in arming terror groups in Gaza and elsewhere.

“Just hours ago, we completed the first part of a IDF (Zahal)-wide mission, which was complex in its planning and executed in secret,” IDF (Zahal) Chief of the General Staff Lieutenant General Benjamin “Benny” Gantz said during a press conference Wednesday. He described the widespread nature of Iran’s weapons shipments, saying that the country is “providing weapons to its proxies in the north and the south.”

Lt. Gen Gantz was discussing Israel’s interception of the KLOS-C ship near Sudan, which took place early Wednesday morning. Israel Navy forces discovered several weapons aboard the ship, including powerful M-302 rockets, which were destined for terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip. The shipment was only one in a long line of Iranian attempts to fuel terrorism in the region.

IDF Chief of Staff: Iran Weapons Smuggling Reveals Constant Efforts to Arm Terrorists

IDF (Zahal) Chief of Staff Benjamin “Benny” Gantz with Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon in the Navy operations room during the Wednesday morning operation (Photo credit: Ariel Hermoni, Ministry of Defense)

Naval commandos on the front lines

According to Lt. Gen. Gantz, IDF (Zahal) soldiers successfully executed today’s mission from the very start. “Our naval forces led the operation professionally at every level,” he stressed. “Israeli naval commandos operated on the front lines, and received support from additional forces on Israeli missile boats. The capabilities of IDF (Zahal) commanders and fighters from every branch contributed to the operation under the command of Israel Navy Commander Major General Ram Rothberg.”

The Chief of Staff discussed relentless smuggling activities in the region. “These efforts to smuggle weapons in the north and south are continuous,” he said. “They demand consistent and far-reaching intelligence, alongside effective operations, which the IDF (Zahal) must carry out occasionally with the appropriate degree of force.”

The Chief of Staff noted that the IDF (Zahal) works to pre-emptively disable attempts to endanger Israel’s security. “This way, we reduce the serious threats facing the IDF (Zahal), threats that are driven primarily by Iran through the Quds Force, and also in other operational sectors.”

IDF Chief of Staff: Iran Weapons Smuggling Reveals Constant Efforts to Arm Terrorists

Iranian missiles intercepted on the way to Gaza

Constant intelligence work

He also addressed how the IDF (Zahal) and Israeli security services tracked the weapons shipment. “We have been following it for a long time, through impressive intelligence work. Today, the work of the IDF (Zahal) Intelligence Corps, as well as Navy Intelligence and the Mossad, has borne fruit, thanks to the cooperation between them,” he said. “This is one of many operations. We thwarted a weapons [transfer], and at the same time uncovered the reality of Iran’s actions.”

Additionally, he noted that Israel Navy forces found numerous advanced weapons on the vessel, and that they will be fully uncovered when the cargo ship arrives on shore in Israel. “The weapons found would have had a very serious impact on Israel, and I’m glad we were able to stop them,” he said. He also praised Maj. Gen. Rothberg for “perfect execution of a plan that was bold and well thought out. The overtaking of the vessel resulted in no casualties, and now we continue the operation and wait for the arrival of our soldiers.”

Lt. Gen. Gantz praised other government organizations who played a role in the success of the operation, among them the Prime Minister’s Office, the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “Above all, I want to express my appreciation to those in the field – the Israel Navy soldiers, who prepared thoroughly for a substantial period of time, and executed this operation smoothly. I feel a sense of pride, as do all IDF (Zahal) commanders, in our ability to protect Israel.”