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(photo credit: AP [file])
Hizbullah on Thursday issued its first response to Israel's seizure of a cargo ship loaded with hundreds of tons of weaponry sent to the terror group from Iran.
The Lebanese Shi'ite organization issued a statement saying that it "categorically denies" any connection to the weapons "that the Zionist enemy claims to have confiscated from the ship."
On Wednesday, Israel announced that the Francop, a large cargo vessel, contained dozens of containers holding several hundred tons of weapons concealed in crates marked "parts for bulldozers."
Hizbullah also condemned "Israeli pirates operating in international waters."
Israeli Navy Seals captured the Francop some 100 nautical miles west of Israel's northern shores.
Hizbullah's statement echoed a statement made by Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem, who denied late Wednesday that the cargo ship was carrying weapons from Iran, and implicitly called the Israeli naval forces "pirates."
"Unfortunately there are official pirates disrupting the movement of goods between Iran and Syria," he told reporters on a visit to Teheran. "I stress, the ship was not carrying Iranian arms bound for Syria, nor was it carrying material for manufacturing weapons in Syria. It was carrying [commercial] goods from Syria to Iran."
Lebanese MP Michel Aoun, who in 2006 became aligned with Hizbullah, remarked later on Wednesday that Lebanon would get its arms from China if not from Iran, adding that such weapons would be better suited to the "liberation of Palestine" than to the internal Lebanese conflict.
Yaakov Katz contributed to this report