Israel’s navy commandeered a ship en route from Iran to Gaza that was carrying Syrian-made rockets to Palestinian militants, the Israeli military said.
The naval action today, along with a border clash between Israeli and Syrian forces earlier today, ratcheted up regional tensions.
The Panamanian-flagged KLOS-C was captured early today off the coast of Sudan and Eritrea, about 1,000 miles south of the Israel Red Sea port of Eilat, the military said in an e-mailed statement. The crew did not put up any resistance, military spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner said.
According to the statement, the ship departed the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas carrying dozens of M-302 rockets. It was headed for Port Sudan, where its weapons cargo was to be smuggled overland into Gaza.
While Israel has intercepted Gaza-bound arms shipments at sea before, this incident was notable for the quality of weapons seized, the military said.
“Armed with the M-302 rockets, terror groups in Gaza had the means to threaten millions of Israeli citizens, as well as strategic locations such as Jerusalem, Tel-Aviv and Israel’s coastal gas fields,” the military said in its statement.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the incident was proof of Iran’s true intentions at a time when it is trying to negotiate a nuclear deal with world powers.
“This is the true Iran,” Netanyahu, who is visiting the U.S., said in a text message. “This state must not be allowed to be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons.”
Earlier today Syria’s state-run news agency said Israel fired eight rockets into its territory, injuring 11 people. Israel said it opened fire after identifying militants trying to plant an explosive device near the fence along the Israeli-held Golan Heights.
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