Panama’s President Ricardo Martinelli gave Israel authorization to board the Klos C ship carrying Iranian arms to Gaza earlier this month, and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Thursday sent him a personal message of thanks.

The Klos C, intercepted in the Red Sea carrying rockets and mortars to Gaza that were hidden on board, flew under the Panamanian flag.

According to international maritime law, it is necessary to receive authorization from the country under whose flag the ship is sailing before boarding.

“Martinelli is a true friend of Israel and the Jewish people” Netanyahu’s spokesman Mark Regev said.

“During his presidency the relations between Panama and Israel have expanded.”

Panama was one of only eight countries to vote with Israel and against the Palestinians’ successful bid in September 2012 to win non-member state status at the UN.

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