'Time': IDF official confirms strike in Sudan

Al-Arabiya: 2 killed in strike were Sudanese nationals, other was from an Arab country; some reports claim man was senior Hamas operative.

April 7, 2011 09:35
3 minute read.
The wreckage from an air strike in Sudan [file]

Sudan strike. (photo credit: Channel 10)


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A senior IDF official confirmed that Israel was responsible for the deadly air strike on a car in Port Sudan, Time magazine reported on Wednesday.

"It's not our first time there," the official reportedly told Time, referring to a 2009 attack in which the IDF destroyed a weapons convoy near Sudan's border with Egypt.

Two killed in Israeli air strike on Hamas compound in Gaza

Israel assassinated a senior Hamas weapons smuggler late Tuesday night when it bombed a rental car in Sudan, the Al-Arabiya news channel reported on Wednesday, shedding light on the mysterious late-night air strike.

The station did not identify the two men who were killed in the strike but said that one of them was Sudanese and that the other was from another Arab country. Some reports have claimed that he was a senior Hamas operative responsible for smuggling weapons from Iran, Syria and Lebanon to the Gaza Strip.

Palestinian news source Ma'an reported an anonymous intelligence official as saying that one of the men killed in the recent attack was senior Hamas official Abdul Latif Al-Ashqar. The source added that the other man killed was a 'friend' of Ashqar's.

According to the source, Ashqar was the successor of Mahmoud Al-Mabhouh, the senior Hamas official who was assassinated in his hotel room in Dubai last year.

Private sources in Hamas have denied the claim that Ashqar was killed in the attack, Ma'an reported, and said that Ashqar is alive and well.

Ashqar, whose family lives in the Jabalia refugee camp in Gaza, has been previously accused of smuggling weapons to Hamas in Gaza by the IDF, Ma'an reported, and of inheriting Mabhouh's position after he was killed.

On Thursday, Kuwaiti newspaper Al Jarida reported that jailed Gazan engineer Dirar Abu Sisi gave Israeli intelligence 'valuable information' that led to the attack on the arms smugglers. According to the source, Abu Sisi passed along the sensitive information to Israel during his remand since he was abducted by a train in Ukraine last month.

The source also told Al Jarida that Israel received valuable information on smuggling routes and cells operating from Sudan, through Egypt, and to Gaza, from a 'network' of southern Sudanese refugees who have migrated to Israel.

Sudan is a known stop on the smuggling route from Iran to Gaza. In 2009, on the sidelines of Operation Cast Lead in the Strip, Israel Air Force aircraft reportedly bombed a convoy of trucks carrying weaponry and traveling through the Sudanese desert on its way to the Gaza Strip.

Ships reportedly sail from the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas, controlled by the Revolutionary Guards Corps, and dock at an Iranian-controlled port in Sudan. There, the weaponry is unloaded onto the back of trucks that travel North into Egypt and through the Sinai Peninsula, eventually unloading their cargo along the border with the Gaza Strip.

According to the Sudanese, an aircraft approached Sudan from the Red Sea and bombed the rental car about 14 kilometers south of Port Sudan. The two men had reportedly just landed in Sudan an hour earlier.

On Wednesday, Sudan’s Foreign Minister Ali Karti also accused Israel of carrying out the Port Sudan attack and said Khartoum reserved the right to react to the aggression.

“This is absolutely an Israeli attack,” he told reporters.

He said Israel undertook the attack to scupper Sudan’s chances of being removed from a US list of state sponsors of terrorism.

The government in Jerusalem declined to comment.

Sudanese officials have offered different versions on how the strike was carried out. Police say a missile hit the car near the port city, but a state government official blamed the bombing on a foreign aircraft that flew in from the Red Sea.

Washington this year initiated the process to remove Sudan from its list of state sponsors of terrorism after a peaceful January referendum in which the country’s south voted to secede.

Israel has been operating persistently against the Iranian smuggling mechanism since Operation Cast Lead.

In November 2009, the navy seized the Francop cargo ship that was taking weaponry to Hezbollah in Lebanon, and last month seized the Victoria, which was shipping weaponry to Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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