Israel’s elite Shayetet early Wednesday, March 5, boarded an Iranian Panama-registered cargo vessel KLOS C. Concealed in its hold under sacks of cement were dozens of 302mm rockets with a range of 150 kms, manufactured in Syria and destined by Iran for the Gaza Strip after being offloaded in Sudan.
Debka(h/t Julia A) The Israeli commandos seized the vessel in open sea on the maritime border of Sudan and Eritrea, 1500 south of Israel, and have set it on course for Eilat.
Sudan has been revealed by DEBKAfile’s military sources as having been transformed in the last two years into a major Iranian weapons manufacturing and logistic depot, which supplies Syria, HIzballah and Hamas. Port Sudan is also the hub for the smuggling of Iranian arms to various Middle East locations.
The IDF said the Iranian missile cargo was destined for the Palestinian Hamas which rules the Gaza Strip. If this is so, it would mean that Iran had gone back to arming Hamas with missiles and rockets after a two-year pause during which the Palestinian extremists were cold-shouldered by Tehran for their animosity to Syria’s Bashar Assad.
By the same token, it is hard to believe the Assad would consent to relay Syrian-made missiles to this antagonist. Some Middle East military sources believe the shipment as not destined for Palestinian terrorists for use against Israel, but rather for Muslim Brotherhood activists fighting the Egyptian army from their forward base in the Gaza Strip. They don’t rule out the possibility of Al Qaeda affiliates fighting in Sinai as being the address. Western intelligence has recorded instances of Iran entering into ad hoc operational collaboration with al Qaeda elements when it suits Tehran’s book.
The rockets were flown from Syria to Iran, then loaded on a ship where they were concealed under sacks of cement inside containers. From the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas, the ship headed into the Red Sea bound for Sudan where it was intercepted by Israeli commandos.
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said that Iran is again exposed as the biggest arms exporter in the world to terrorist organizations.