At any given time, Israel’s defense establishment is monitoring Iranian arms-smuggling and terror-financing networks, a security source revealed on Thursday.
This comment came a day after the Israel Navy intercepted an Iranian attempt to smuggle powerful rockets to the Gaza Strip on a commercial ship off the coast of Sudan.
Currently, IDF Military Intelligence is managing investigations “no less significant” than the Iranian attempt to bring Syrian-made M-302 rockets to Gaza, the source said, describing the covert investigations as part of a far wider “war between wars.”
Not a week passes by without Israel blocking or thwarting an Iranian attempt to transmit arms to terrorist entities threatening Israeli national security. All of Israel’s intelligence agencies are involved in this effort, the source said, including Military Intelligence’s various units, the Mossad and the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency).
“We’re working together, with a lot of transparency,” he said.
There are a variety of ways to disrupt illicit Iranian arms shipments, the source said, adding that a drone could be used for the job.
At the center of the global Iranian arms network is the Quds Force, an elite unit of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps tasked with exporting the Islamic Revolution and comprising thousands of operatives.
Qassem Suleimani heads the organization, and the source described him as a “skilled mastermind,” working daily to arm Israel’s enemies.
“We are stopping them in many ways,” the source said. Counteractions against the Quds Force can be done by sharing the name of a bank used for the financing of the movement of arms with other countries or by exposing the name of a company that provides components for missiles.
In the case of the M-302 rockets intercepted on Wednesday, Military Intelligence noticed suspicious movements of rockets from Syria eastwards towards Iran, which set in motion an investigation many months ago.
“It’s getting harder and harder for the Iranians to get weapons in through the southern route,” the source said, referring to paths used to bring rockets to the Gaza Strip. “In the Northern sector, there is some smuggling, but part of this has been stopped,” he said referring to Hezbollah’s armament program in Lebanon.
The source said he could not rule out that the Iranians would “hold in-depth investigations.
It’s not the first time this has been done to them,” he said, adding that “this will stop their activities for several months. Until you find the source of the leak, you have no confidence that the next shipment won’t share the same fate.”
But eventually, he said, Iran will try again.
The Israel Navy has spent months preparing for Wednesday’s interception. The crew of the Klos-C ship were shocked when the navy showed it the rockets in the ship’s hull, navy sources said.
“The captain felt cheated, he didn’t know he was part of a conspiracy, [of] an Iranian operation,” one source said.
The captain, who is Turkish, provided a full statement to navy personnel on how his ship entered the Iranian port of Bander Abbas, loaded crates and moved on to the Iraqi port of Umm Qasr, where cement sacks were loaded onto the vessel.
The ship’s next destination was meant to be Port Sudan, where the Quds Force had planned to pick up the rockets and move them on land via Egypt into Gaza – through smuggling tunnels.
The Iranian arms network reaches far beyond Gaza and Lebanon, and includes Shi’ite militias and pro-Iranian terrorist groups across the Middle East. Syria, Iraq, Bahrain, Yemen, Sudan, Libya, the Far East, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Latin America are all affected, according to Israeli intelligence assessments.
“Iran is maintaining major [arms transit] efforts in our area alone, for the purpose of creating Iranian hegemony in the region, and ensuring that Sunni dominance remains grounded,” the source said.
Earlier on Wednesday, Military Intelligence chief Maj.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi said his organization had “no doubt” Iran was behind the rockets shipment.
“Iran’s Republican Guards Corps and Quds Force are working to destabilize the region,” Kochavi said. “Iran violates UN Security Council Resolution 1747, which bans it from trading in or moving weapons.”