An Iranian 150-ton freighter departed Bandar Abbas port Sunday, Nov. 18, with a cargo of 220 short-range missiles and 50 improved long-range Fajar-5 rockets for the Gaza Strip.
Debka The new Fajar-5s have a 200-kilo warhead, which packs a bigger punch than the 175 kilos of explosives delivered by the rockets in current use with the Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip. To extend their range to cover the 85 kilometers from Gaza to Tel Aviv, Hamas removed a part of their payloads to make them lighter.
The Sudanese will then be told by Tehran whether TO put into Port Sudan with the missiles, or turn north and sail up the Red Sea to the Straits of Tiran to link up with Egyptian fishing boats which regularly ply this waterway in the service of Palestinian-Iranian smuggling networks. They would unload the missile cargo in a quiet inlet on the Sinai coast. From there, it would be carried to the smuggling tunnels running from Sinai under the border into the Gaza Strip. Palestinian teams assisted by Iranian and Hizballah technicians in the Gaza Strip would then assemble the new rockets and make them operational.
Tehran is sending the fresh supply of disassembled rockets to replenish the stocks its allies, the Palestinian Hamas and Jihad Islami, depleted in their round-the-clock attacks on Israel since Nov. 10. (And what are we sending Israel? Oh, that’s right, we’re sending them orders to “show restraint”)
US warships turn around toward Israel for possible evacuation of Americans (the first time ever). Perhaps we are anticipating Israel to be attacked by Iran?
DEBKA The US has ordered three amphibious warships with 2,500 Marines aboard back to the eastern Mediterranean to remain on standby off Israel’s shore in case they are needed to evacuate American citizens. TheUSS Iwo Jima, the USS New York and the USS Gunston Hall, were sailing west of Gibraltar on their way to back to Norfolk, Virginia, when they were turned around.
The United States have never before evacuated American citizens from Israel. The US notice does not say whether a possible evacuation would include the US forces posted in American bases in Israel. A mass evacuation would entail a Marine shore landing in order to lead the evacuees to the amphibious craft.
The Iwo Jima is a helicopter carrier, while the New York, one of the newest vessels of its kind in the US Navy, is a primary class of amphibious transport dock.
Although a decision to evacuate nationals was defined in the CNN report as a “remote contingency,” our sources stress that it is extreme enough to be taken only when a war situation is envisaged capable of endangering Americans.
This step negates the expectation articulated widely in Israel Monday, Nov. 19, that a ceasefire with the Hamas is within reach. It rather indicates that Washington sees the situation surrounding the Gaza Strip in a far different light, more like a situation holding the threat of a general conflagration beyond the confines of the Israel-Hamas contest in Gaza.
According to the same report, the US military also maintains three to four ships off the coast of Israel that are capable of shooting down ballistic missiles. That deployment has stretched for some months in the face of a potential ballistic threat from Iran.