It was announced at a news conference held in Israel that the Israeli military had seized a ship in the Red Sea on Wednesday that was carrying scores of advanced rockets going to the Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip from Iran.
According to Israel, the Panamanian-flagged cargo vessel “Klos-C,” boarded in international waters off the coasts of Sudan and Eritrea, would be escorted to the Israeli port of Eilat in the coming days.
An Israeli military spokesman, Peter Lerner, told reporters that the ship was carrying Syrian-made M-302 rockets. M-302 surface-to-surface rockets can reach a range of up to one hundred miles and could have struck deep into Israel from Gaza. If the shipment had been delivered to the Palestinians on the Gaza, it would have put millions of Israelis in jeopardy and greatly enhanced the firepower of Palestinian militant groups, such as Hamas.
Irael has seen the use of those rockets in their country before, the militant group Hezbollah used M-302s on Israeli targets in the conflict in 2006.
According to Israel intelligence, the shipment originated in Syria, and was only intercepted after months of “complex and covert” intelligence gathering.
The Israeli military said the Iranians tried to “obscure their tracks” by shipping the weapons along with containers filled with bags of cement, first via Iraq and then out to sea.
In the Israeli video that was released by the military, viewers could see Israeli soldiers aboard the Klos-C inspecting the rockets, packed in large shipping boxes. Also seen in the video were the large bags of cement with the words “Made in Iran,” in English, stamped on them.
Israeli officials said the shipment was destined for Sudan, from where it would have been moved overland through Egypt to Gaza. They said the 17-man crew of the ship probably were unaware of the cargo.