Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Tuesday said that he gave the order on Monday night to board and take over the freight ship Victoria based on firm intelligence information that was it was carrying arms from Iran to Gaza.
During 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."
IDF seizes freighter of Iranian weapons headed to Gaza
Netanyahu said that more information about the ship and what it was carrying would be released tomorrow.
"The 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.