Danny Ayalon 311.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Iran and Syria are trying to boost the capabilities of non-state actors and give them a “quantitative and qualitative” edge over the moderate regimes in the region, Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said Wednesday.
Ayalon’s comments came at a briefing for foreign diplomats and journalists at the Ashdod port, where the arms confiscated from the Victoria cargo ship were put on display. Ayalon briefed about 100 ambassadors, diplomats and military attaches from around the world, leading the Foreign Ministry’s efforts to drive home to the international community the danger that the smuggling of arms into Gaza poses for Israel and the region.
“What we saw yesterday is just the tip of the iceberg,” Ayalon said. “The arms are not trickling drip by drip, as in the past, but are literally flooding into the hands of dangerous terrorist groups by air, sea and land, threatening to upset the military balance and undermine regional stability in the Middle East and the southern Mediterranean rim of Europe.”
The flood of arms, Ayalon said, “is creating a tipping point which could
soon result in the balance of power shifting dramatically and
permanently in favor of Iran and its allies, with all that entails for
our neighbors in Europe, sub- Saharan Africa and the Gulf.”
Beyond the high-profile display of the arms at the Ashdod port, Israeli
representatives abroad were stressing the following points:
• The smuggling attempt provides additional proof of Israel’s need to examine all goods entering the Gaza Strip.
• Israel acted in self defense because the smuggling of arms into Gaza
poses a direct and imminent threat to the safety of Israelis, who
continue to find themselves under rocket and mortar fire originating
from the Strip.
• Iran is trying to arm Hamas, and Gaza has become part of the Iranian-Syria-Hamas axis.
Israel is also stressing that the smuggling was in clear violation of
various UN Security Council resolutions and international maritime
According to the Foreign Ministry, transferring weaponry to terrorist
organizations in the Gaza Strip is a blatant violation of UN Security
Council Resolution 1860 (2009), which calls upon member states to
intensify efforts to “prevent illicit trafficking in arms and
ammunition” to the Gaza Strip. Likewise, it also violates UN Security
Council Resolution 1373 (2001), which calls upon states to refrain from
providing any form of support to terrorist organizations and to
eliminate the supply of weapons to such groups.
Similarly, since nothing in the Victoria’s freight manifest revealed the
true nature of the content of the ship’s containers, it is in violation
of the relevant provisions of the International Maritime Organization’s
Conventions and professional standards, including the Convention on the
Safety of Life at Sea and the International Maritime Dangerous Goods
Ayalon said Israel was “examining and documenting” the evidence taken
from the Victoria and would report the findings to the UN Sanctions
Committee, asking it to take firm action against those involved in
violating the UN Security Council resolutions.