‘Victoria’ served as ‘first test’ of Iranian infrastructure

Weapons aboard 'Victoria' were supposed to be unloaded at the Egyptian port of Alexandria and transferred into the Gaza Strip.

March 18, 2011 05:36
2 minute read.
Victoria ship weapons smuggling

victoria ship weapons gallery10. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)

The Victoria cargo ship that was seized by navy commandos on Tuesday filled with Iranian weapons may have been destined for Hamas or other terrorist organizations.

“Hamas does not fire rockets into Israel and gets very upset when other organizations do it, even though there is little it can do,” a senior IDF officer said.

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A power shift in the Gaza Strip began after Operation Cast Lead and following Hamas’s decision to suspend its military operations against Israel. Islamic Jihad did not agree with the decision and has continued to attack Israel on a regular basis.

In 2010, for example, some 200 improvised explosive devices (IEDs) were planted along the Israeli-Gaza border by Islamic Jihad. In most cases, the IEDs – some antipersonnel and others against armored vehicles – were found in groups of three and four.

Islamic Jihad is also behind the recent rocket attacks against Israel, including the two Grad-model Katyusha rockets that struck Beersheba last month.

The weapons aboard the Victoria were supposed to be unloaded at the Egyptian port of Alexandria and transferred into the Gaza Strip via the hundreds of tunnels that are scattered under the 14-kilometer strip of land known as the Philadelphi Corridor.

The IDF is concerned that Iran, Hamas and Islamic Jihad are looking to take advantage of the current regime change in Egypt by establishing new terror and smuggling infrastructure in the Sinai Peninsula.

The arms aboard the Victoria were likely supposed to serve as one of the first tests of the new infrastructure.

At the same time, however, the Egyptians are continuing to operate against smuggling in the Sinai and along their southern border with Sudan, where the military recently intercepted a number of trucks trying to smuggle ammunition into Egypt.

The Egyptians have completed about 80 percent of a steel underground wall along the Philadelphi Corridor which goes some 15 meters down and has made it more difficult for smugglers to dig tunnels. Work on the wall was recently suspended due to the upheaval in Egypt, but the IDF is confident that it will be renewed soon.

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