francop weapons cache 248 88.
(photo credit: IDF Spokesperson)
The IDF issued Thursday what it said were damning photos showing Katyusha rockets discovered last week by UNIFIL troops in Lebanon that are of the same make as the rockets seized by the Navy when it boarded the Francop cargo ship Wednesday.
On Thursday, the IDF finished removing the weaponry from the containers and transferred it from Ashdod to a base in the center in the country where it will be inspected and reviewed by munitions experts.
The final weight of the cache was 320 tons and included 9,000 mortar shells, thousands of 107-mm. Katyusha rockets that have a range of 15 kilometers, some 600 Russian-made 122-mm. rockets with a 40-km. range and hundreds of thousands of Kalashnikov bullets.
IDF sources said they were surprised by the significant quantity of mortar shells. "This is the most we have seen in a single shipment," one senior officer involved in reviewing the arms cache said Thursday.
Other officials said it was possible that Hizbullah was lacking mortar shells or was planning on using them more prominently in the event of a future conflict with the IDF.
Most of the weaponry, the senior officer said, appeared to have come from the Far East and Russia, while some of it was made in Iran. Most of it appeared to have been manufactured in the past few years, the officer said.
In one of the photos released by the IDF, several 107-mm. Katyusha rockets are seen on launchers in the yard of a home in southern Lebanon, the identical location from where a rocket was fired into the Galilee last week.
"This is the same type that was on the ship and is shipped from Iran to Hizbullah in Lebanon," the IDF said.
Meanwhile Thursday, defense officials issued criticisms of Egypt, which they said had failed to properly inspect the Iranian containers as they sat waiting to be loaded onto the Francop at the Diametta Port on the Mediterranean side of the Suez Canal.
The containers were clearly marked as belonging to the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL), which is a company that is known to assist the regime in illegal arms trafficking to Hizbullah.
"United Nations Security Council Resolution 1803 explicitly asks countries to board and inspect IRISL ships and containers," one official said. "The Egyptians could have done more."