Barak: 'Victoria' may have smuggled anti-ship missiles
Defense minister: Weapons would have limited navy's freedom of operations; PM says he ordered seizure of ship carrying Iranian arms.
The Victoria cargo
ship, which was carrying weaponry from Iran to Hamas in the Gaza Strip,
was suspected of carrying anti-ship missiles that would have impaired
the Israel Navy's freedom of operations in the Mediterranean Sea,
Defense Minister Ehud Barak said on Tuesday.
According to Barak,
one of the reasons that the Navy seized the ship early Tuesday morning
was out of concern that if the cargo arrived in Gaza, Israel would have
difficulty operating along the Gaza coast.
IDF seizes freighter of Iranian weapons headed to Gaza
suspected that it was carrying the beginning of a system that could
impair our operational freedom along the Gaza coast," Barak told
During the Second Lebanon War in 2006, Hezbollah fired
a Chinese missile called C-802 supplied by Iran at the INS Hanit,
killing four Israeli soldiers and severely damaging the advanced missile
Earlier Tuesday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on
Tuesday said that he gave the order on Monday night to board and take
over the freight ship based on firm intelligence information that was it
was carrying arms from Iran to Gaza.
a tour of the security fence being constructed on the border with
Egypt, he said the ship had stopped over in Syria and Israel had the
"obligation and right to stop ships smuggling arms."
Netanyahu said that more information about the ship and what it was carrying would be released tomorrow.
seizure was made at sea according to international laws. We updated all
the relevant countries and the international community," he added.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak congratulated Israeli Navy's Flotilla 13
commandos on the successful operation during which they took control of
the ship with dozens of tons of weaponry from Iran headed for Hamas in
the Gaza Strip. Barak closely followed the Victoria ship's movements in
recent days with other IDF commanders.
Barak said Tuesday that "the IDF and navy fighters prevented
the smuggling of weapons into the Gaza Strip which were intended to be
used against the residents of Israel."
"The purpose of smuggling [these weapons] was to harm the security of
Israel and the IDF fighters acted to protect national security," the
defense minister said.
"The attempt to smuggle weapons into Gaza shows that there are radical
forces who continue to try and harm Israel and undermine stability in
the region," he continued.
Opposition leader Tzipi Livni
(Kadima) said Tuesday that "there are those who are exploiting the
unrest in the world in order to transfer weapons to terrorist
organizations who try to harm us."
There is a campaign to
delegitimize Israel. The same people who are responsible for
transferring weapons to the area are also responsible for sending the
killers to Itamar," Livni added.
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