Israeli Naval Commandos Intercept Iranian arms Shipment to Hezbollah

(IDF Spokesperson) On Tuesday (November 3, 2009) a special naval force detained and boarded a merchant ship carrying the flag of Antigua about 100 miles west of the coast of Israel.

Following an initial inspection, which determined that it was carrying a significant amount of weapons disguised as civilian cargo, the weapons-loaded ship was directed to an Israeli port so as to enable further searches on board and a detailed inspection of the cargo.

The IDF Spokesperson said that after the ship was boarded and checked, it was taken into Israel to conduct a detailed inspection of the cargo.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak praised the IDF for their outstanding effort in combating weapon smuggling. "This is another success in the struggle against attempts to smuggle weapons by terrorist organizations who threaten the security of Israel" he said.

It should be emphasized that IDF forces and the Israel Navy conduct routine intensive operations for security purposes, in order to combat terror and to prevent arms smuggling on various fronts, and the seizure of the ship was carried out as part of this ongoing routine activity.

The largest ship intercepted by Navy forces was the Karine A vessel in 2002. The vessel carried tons of weapons from Iran intended to reach the Gaza Strip.

Since the conclusion of the Second Lebanon War, Iran has intensified efforts to establish itself as the leader of the radical axis. These efforts are manifested in ongoing, wide-scale weapon transfers to Syria, Hizbullah and Hamas, as well as financial assistance, training and more. By providing hostile factions with these weapons, Iran substantially enhances their capabilities, improving their arsenals both qualitatively and quantitatively.

The Quds Force, which is affiliated with the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, is responsible for Iran's international operations. The force, which answers directly to the Iranian leader, has developed numerous methods of transferring weapons and supplies, relying on aerial, naval and ground channels.

* * *
President Peres stated: "The IDF today successfully intercepted a ship that was apparently en route from Iran to Syria and Hizbullah. Although all the parties deny it, the entire world is today witness to the wide gap between what Syria and Iran say and what they in fact do. The actions of Iran and Syria contradict all international law. Both Iran and Syria are continuously arming the terrorist organizations, first and foremost Hizbullah and Hamas, and are clearly working to undermine peace in the Middle East. The interception of the arms ship is of the highest importance in military terms, but also has political importance. No one can argue with facts. This is an important achievement for the army and for the entire State of Israel."


1. Events in which Iranian attempts to smuggle arms have been uncovered

December 2001 - The Karine A vessel, loaded with weapons in Iran, bound for the Gaza Strip, sailed in the direction of Egypt with the intention of unloading its cargo in Egypt. Small fishing boats were meant to pick up the cargo and deliver it to the Gaza Strip. The ship, loaded with rockets, anti-tank rockets, and light arms, was seized on January 3, 2002 by Israeli naval commandos.

Weapons taken from the Karin A vessel (Photo: IDF Spokesman)
December 2003 - January 2004 - The Iranian Revolutionary Guard directed an aerial convoy to transfer weapons and supplies to Hizbullah via Syria. The aerial convoys were disguised as humanitarian aid intended for those injured in an earthquake in Bam, a city in southern Iran. The Iranians took advantage of the open airspace by trying to smuggle weapons to Hizbullah while humanitarian aid flights were landing in Iran from all over the world.

May 2007 - An Iranian train carrying arms (mortar shells, light arms, rocket launchers and ammunition) was uncovered in Turkey. The arms were destined for Hizbullah. The Iranians attempted to conceal and disguise the arms in order to avoid suspicion by the Turkish authorities.  

January 2009 - An arms shipment sent by Iran was intercepted and seized in Cyprus after it was found on the Cypriot vessel Monchegorsk which had been leased by the Iranian Irisl shipping company. The cargo was found to include tank, artillery and mortar shells as well as materials to be used for producing rockets.

Cypriot vessel Monchegorsk (Photo: IDF Spokesman)

October 2009 -The Hansa India, which sailed from Iran flying a German flag was due to unload a cargo of eight containers in Egypt. Following warnings from the German authorities the vessel was not unloaded and continued to Malta where it was seized and found to be carrying bullets and industrial material intended for the production of weapons, seemingly bound for Syria.

The Hansa India-seized in Malta (Photo: IDF Spokesperson)

2. UN Resolutions limiting Iranian export and arms trade

Excerpts from original text

UN Security Council Resolution 1737 (December 23, 2006):
"Decides that Iran shall not export any of the items in documents S/2006/814 and S/2006/815 and that all Member States shall prohibit the procurement of such items from Iran by their nationals, or using their flag vessels or aircraft, and whether or not originating in the territory of Iran."
UN Security Council Resolution 1747 (March 24, 2007):
"Decides that Iran shall not supply, sell or transfer directly or indirectly from its territory or by its nationals or using its flag vessels or aircraft any arms or related material, and that all States shall prohibit the procurement of such items from Iran by their nationals, or using their flag vessels or aircraft, and whether or not originating in the territory of Iran."

UN Security Council Resolution 1803 (March 24, 2008)
"Calls upon all States, in accordance with their national legal authorities and legislation and consistent with international law, in particular the law of the sea and relevant international civil aviation agreements, to inspect the cargoes to and from Iran of aircraft and vessels, at their airports and seaports, owned or operated by Iran Air Cargo and Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines, provided there are reasonable grounds to believe that the aircraft or vessel is transporting goods prohibited under this resolution or resolution 1737 (2006) or resolutions 1747 (2007);"

UN Security Council Resolution 1835 (September 27, 2008)
"Reaffirms the statement of its President, S/PRST/2006/15, of 29 March, and its resolution 1696 (2006) of 31 July 2006, its resolution 1737 (2006) of 23 December 2006, its resolution 1747 (2007) of 24 March 2007, and its resolution 1803 (2008) of 3 March 2008…"

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