'Karine A' to 'Victoria': History of naval seizures

Navy's elite Flotilla 13 unit has been involved over past decade with high profile missions involving seizure of weapons headed for Hamas, Hezbollah.

By JPOST.COM STAFF,
March 15, 2011 13:55
2 minute read.
Francop

Francop. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

The seizure of the Victoria cargo ship on Tuesday joins a long and mostly secret list of missions credited to the Israel Navy's elite commandos from Flotilla 13, also known as the Shayetet.

While most of their operations are hidden from the public, navy commandos have played a key role in all of Israel's recent conflicts, including the Second Lebanon War in 2006 and Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip in 2008.

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How Naval commando 13 seized the 'Francop'

'Francop' ship seized en route from Iran

In 2009 the same unit seized the Francop cargo ship as it made its way toward Lebanon filled with hundreds of tons of weaponry en route from Iran to Hezbollah.

The commando teams waited on a small, fast patrol boast as the INS Eilat, one of the navy's Sa'ar 5-class corvettes and blocked the Francop's course.  After the commander of the Eilat received permission from the Francop's captain to board the freighter, he radioed the commandos and gave them the green light to close in.

The commandos scaled ropes and climbed aboard the ship without encountering any resistance. They lined up the crew and, while several sailors kept an eye on them, others searched the cargo containers until they discovered the weaponry.

The last operation before the seizure of the Francop in which Naval commando13 is known to have participated was during the 2006 Lebanon war, when a team entered the Lebanese coastal town of Tyre in an attempt to capture a senior Hezbullah operative and take out some of the group's long-range missile capability.

'Karine A' arms ship captured in Red Sea

The commando was also behind the capture of the Karine A arms ship in the Red Sea in 2002, as its made its way to bring weaponry to terrorists in the Gaza Strip. During the second intifada, the elite unit participated in ground operations as well, and was credited with the capture and killing of several senior Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists.


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