Israel intercepts Iranian ship carrying rockets for Gaza

Jerusalem, March 6: The Israeli special forces Wednesday intercepted an Iranian ship in the Red Sea that ferried missiles for militants in the Gaza Strip, capping an intelligence operation that lasted months.

Naval commandos raided the vessel on the maritime border between Sudan and Eritrea, approximately 1,500 km from the Israeli coast, while it was en route to Port Sudan, Xinhua quoted the military as saying.

A search on board the Panamanian-flagged vessel, named the KLOS-C, yielded dozens of Syrian-made M-302 surface-to-surface rockets that were concealed under cement bags, the military said. It noted that Hezbollah fired this type of rocket into northern Israel during the 33-day war in 2006.

Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, an army spokesperson, said the operation, codenamed “Full Disclosure”, was launched several months ago when Israeli intelligence agencies identified that the rockets were flown from Damascus to Tehran, an unusual route that sought to throw Israeli intelligence off track.

Ten days ago, they were loaded onto the cargo ship at the Bandar Abbas Port in southern Iran, from where the vessel sailed to the Iraqi port of Umm Qasr, and continued its journey to Port Sudan, where it was scheduled to dock Thursday.

Commandos who boarded the vessel did not encounter resistance from its 17 crew members, and it was being towed to the navy’s Red Sea port in Eilat, where it is scheduled to arrive in three days.

The military said the crew of the KLOS-C were most likely not aware of the cargo they were ferrying, and would be released shortly after being questioned by Israeli authorities.

IANS