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Thread: Israeli troops attack ship carrying aid to Gaza killing 16

  1. #41

    Israeli Force, Adrift on the Sea

    By AMOS OZ

    The New York Times

    ARAD, Israel

    FOR 2,000 years, the Jews knew the force of force only in the form of lashes to our own backs. For several decades now, we have been able to wield force ourselves — and this power has, again and again, intoxicated us.

    In the period before Israel was founded, a large portion of the Jewish population in Palestine, especially members of the extremely nationalist Irgun group, thought that military force could be used to achieve any goal, to drive the British out of the country, and to repel the Arabs who opposed the creation of our state.

    Luckily, during Israel’s early years, prime ministers like David Ben-Gurion and Levi Eshkol knew very well that force has its limits and were careful to use it only as a last resort. But ever since the Six-Day War in 1967, Israel has been fixated on military force. To a man with a big hammer, says the proverb, every problem looks like a nail.

    Israel’s siege of the Gaza Strip and Monday’s violent interception of civilian vessels carrying humanitarian aid there are the rank products of this mantra that what can’t be done by force can be done with even greater force. This view originates in the mistaken assumption that Hamas’s control of Gaza can be ended by force of arms or, in more general terms, that the Palestinian problem can be crushed instead of solved.

    But Hamas is not just a terrorist organization. Hamas is an idea, a desperate and fanatical idea that grew out of the desolation and frustration of many Palestinians. No idea has ever been defeated by force — not by siege, not by bombardment, not by being flattened with tank treads and not by marine commandos. To defeat an idea, you have to offer a better idea, a more attractive and acceptable one.

    Thus, the only way for Israel to edge out Hamas would be to quickly reach an agreement with the Palestinians on the establishment of an independent state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip as defined by the 1967 borders, with its capital in East Jerusalem. Israel has to sign a peace agreement with President Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah government in the West Bank — and by doing so, reduce the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to a conflict between Israel and the Gaza Strip. That latter conflict, in turn, can be resolved only by negotiating with Hamas or, more reasonably, by the integration of Fatah with Hamas.

    Even if Israel seizes 100 more ships on their way to Gaza, even if Israel sends in troops to occupy the Gaza Strip 100 more times, no matter how often Israel deploys its military, police and covert power, force cannot solve the problem that we are not alone in this land, and the Palestinians are not alone in this land. We are not alone in Jerusalem and the Palestinians are not alone in Jerusalem. Until Israelis and Palestinians recognize the logical consequences of this simple fact, we will all live in a permanent state of siege — Gaza under an Israeli siege, Israel under an international and Arab siege.

    I do not discount the importance of force. Woe to the country that discounts the efficacy of force. Without it Israel would not be able to survive a single day. But we cannot allow ourselves to forget for even a moment that force is effective only as a preventative — to prevent the destruction and conquest of Israel, to protect our lives and freedom. Every attempt to use force not as a preventive measure, not in self-defense, but instead as a means of smashing problems and squashing ideas, will lead to more disasters, just like the one we brought on ourselves in international waters, opposite Gaza’s shores.

    Amos Oz is the author, most recently, of the novel “Rhyming Life and Death.”

    This was translated from the Hebrew by Haim Watzman.
    Riđđu, arctic storm

  2. #42

    Quote Originally Posted by Riđđu View Post
    But Hamas is not just a terrorist organization. Hamas is an idea, a desperate and fanatical idea that grew out of the desolation and frustration of many Palestinians.
    Well thanks Amos Oz for that fundamental lesson in philosophy. But the word “organisation” does not preclude “idea” in fact it requires it. But if you take an idea and form a structured group of people doing things around that idea you have: an organisation.

    Quote Originally Posted by Riđđu View Post
    No idea has ever been defeated by force — not by siege, not by bombardment, not by being flattened with tank treads and not by marine commandos. To defeat an idea, you have to offer a better idea, a more attractive and acceptable one.
    Force - including siege, bombardment, the flattening effects of tank treads (more a ripping, really) and marine commandos - seemed to work pretty well eradicating the idea of Nazism from this world. And many other “ideas” as well.

    What magic ingredient did this little media heavy attempted hostage taking gone wrong suddenly mean the world needed to be flooded by bullshit arguments by every idiot with a keyboard?

  3. #43

    Israeli Army Forms Team To Learn From Flotilla Raid


    Published: 8 Jun 2010 08:43

    JERUSALEM - Israel's army announced late Monday the creation of a team of high-ranking officials charged with examining and learning from the deadly May 31 operation against a Gaza-bound aid flotilla.

    The team - to be headed by a general in the reserves, Giora Eiland - would "examine the unfolding of the operation and to draw lessons from it," an army statement said.

    "It must submit its conclusions between now and July 4," it added.

    Besides Eiland, the panel includes two other generals in the reserves, a colonel in the marine reserves and a high official in the defence ministry, it said.

    Israeli special forces stormed a flotilla of six ships carrying aid for blockaded Gaza, killing nine Turks on board one of the vessels and sparking international outrage.

    Israel has defended itself saying it must stop vessels from travelling to Gaza since they could be carrying weapons for Hamas, an Islamist movement committed to the destruction of Israel which controls that Palestinian territory.

    It also says the aid the activists wanted to deliver is not needed.

    Israel has resisted calls for an international enquiry, but the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has announced plans for an internal examination of the events and whether the blockade and its implementation were in keeping with international law.

    Media reports said the panel could include international figures chosen by Israel.

  4. #44

    Islamic charity at center of flotilla clash known for relief work and confrontation

    By Mary Beth Sheridan
    Washington Post Foreign Service

    Thursday, June 10, 2010

    ISTANBUL -- Across from a car-repair shop in this working-class city sits the home of IHH, an Islamic charity. One side of the building is painted with wistful-looking orphans; the other is surrounded by banners celebrating the group's recent effort to challenge the blockade of Gaza. One reads: "Israel, murderers, hands off our boats!"

    The dual message of aid and confrontation defines the charity, which has grown in nearly two decades from a handful of Muslim students to a multimillion-dollar operation.

    The group is under unprecedented scrutiny after a bloody clash May 31 involving Israeli soldiers trying to stop an IHH-led aid flotilla. Israel accused one of the charity's leaders this week of being connected to al-Qaeda, a charge the group denies.

    Analysts in Turkey said it is unlikely that authorities would permit an organization linked to al-Qaeda to operate in Istanbul. IHH reflects something else, they said: the rise of a powerful religious middle class in a country where secularism was once strictly enforced.

    With an Islamic-rooted party in power, Muslim organizations "have found a more congenial and welcoming atmosphere in which to work," said Ilter Turan, a political scientist at Istanbul Bilgi University.

    Terrorist links denied

    IHH, the Humanitarian Relief Foundation, was formed during the war in Bosnia, when Turks were horrified by televised images of massacred Muslims. For years, the Istanbul-based charity has battled allegations of extremist ties.

    French counterterrorism magistrate Jean-Louis Bruguière wrote that the charity's members planned in the 1990s to fight in Afghanistan, Bosnia and Chechnya, according to a 2006 paper by Evan Kohlmann, a U.S. terrorism investigator. Calls were made in 1996 from IHH's headquarters to an al-Qaeda guesthouse in Milan, according to the report. And Bruguière testified during a 2001 trial related to a plot to bomb Los Angeles International Airport that IHH was involved in weapons trafficking, Kohlmann wrote.

    An IHH board member, Murat Yilmaz, denied in an interview that the group was involved with terrorism. As for the phone calls, he said, "Our organization had people from all over the world coming in and out" at the time.

    A think tank with ties to Israel's Defense Ministry, the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, said recently that there was no known evidence of current links between IHH and "global jihad elements" but that "its activities in the past may indicate its nature."

    Not so, IHH says.

    "We are for humanitarianism. Nothing else," Huseyin Oruc, the group's vice president, said in an interview.

    Israeli authorities accused Oruc this week of planning to smuggle al-Qaeda operatives into the Gaza Strip through Turkey. They presented no evidence, and Oruc said he was not asked about that allegation when Israeli authorities questioned occupants of the Mavi Marmara ferry after the clash. "It is a big lie," he said.

    The Palestinian cause

    In the group's two-story headquarters, IHH members -- mostly men in their 30s and 40s dressed in jeans or casual business attire -- oversee operations in dozens of countries. The group provides humanitarian aid such as freshwater wells and medical care, as well as Islamic services such as training for prayer leaders. A world map on one wall depicted Palestine, but not Israel.

    The group takes in $100 million a year in cash and in-kind donations, Oruc said. Analysts said that reflects the generosity of religious Muslims in Turkey who have benefited from the country's economic boom.

    "Twenty years ago, pious Muslims in Turkey were 99 percent the underclass. The seculars were the upper class," said Mustafa Akyol, a columnist with the Star newspaper. That has changed.

    A major focus for IHH is the Palestinian cause, which is popular in Turkey. IHH says it has spent about $25 million over four years in Gaza, which is ruled by Hamas, an Islamist group considered a terrorist organization by Israel and the United States. IHH is banned in Israel because of its aid to Hamas. The charity is not on the U.S. terrorist list, although U.S. officials have expressed concern about its contacts with Hamas officials.

    IHH's financial heft transformed a more modest effort by European and U.S.-based pro-Palestinian groups to challenge the economic blockade of Gaza. While the other groups managed to get small boats and load them with aid, IHH spent $1.8 million buying the Mavi Marmara, a used 250-foot passenger ferry, from the Istanbul municipal government, according to accounts from the charity and IDO, the city's water transport company.

    Israeli officials have speculated that the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan helped promote the flotilla, which included two other IHH boats. In a ceremony before the ships set sail from Istanbul late last month, IHH's president, Bulent Yildirim, thanked supporters -- including the governing Justice and Development Party, or AKP, according to the IHH Web site and press reports.

    But the Turkish government has denied that it was directly or indirectly involved in organizing the flotilla. A group of AKP deputies who were scheduled to take part in the trip dropped out at the last minute, reportedly under pressure from the government.

    Years ago, the government and Turkey's powerful military were wary of conservative Muslim organizations. Now, after a series of reforms that have permitted more religious freedom, the groups operate with fewer constraints.

    The melee on the Mavi Marmara, in which Israeli commandos came under attack with clubs and pipes and nine civilians were killed, has elevated the profile of IHH like never before. Contributions are expected to increase.

    "Our budget will be billions now," Oruc said.

    Correspondent Janine Zacharia in Jerusalem

  5. #45

    Foreign Ministry warned Israel Navy not to raid Gaza flotilla in international waters

    In preparatory discussions, government cautioned that such an action would hamper Israel on the diplomatic and public relations front worldwide.

    from Haaretz.com

    By Barak Ravid

    During the government's preparatory discussions over how to handle the Gaza-bound aid flotilla, the Foreign Ministry advised that Israel's security forces wait for the ships to reach the country's territorial waters - which lie within 20 miles from the coast - before launching a takeover operation. According to a senior official in Jerusalem, Foreign Ministry diplomats said that despite the legality of overtaking the ships in international waters, such an action would hamper Israel on the diplomatic and public relations front worldwide.

    Yesterday the forum of seven senior ministers convened again to discuss the creation of an inquiry committee that would be tasked with probing the flotilla raid and easing the blockade on the Gaza Strip.
    Following the meeting, the ministers did not release a statement regarding the formation of a panel, which is perhaps indicative of continuing disagreement with the Obama administration over the mandate and composition of the committee.

    The Americans would like the committee to include an international entity to placate Turkey, which remains adamant in demanding an international investigation under the auspices of the United Nations.
    Jerusalem is expected to announce the formation of a panel soon. One of the key issues to be examined by the committee is the legality of the navy's actions in the eyes of international law.

    Speaking at a conference organized by TheMarker, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the world had focused too much on Israel without paying due attention to violent attacks by the activists.
    "I want the whole truth to come to light," he said. "So it is important to include answers to questions that have until now been ignored by many actors within the international community."

    "We have to establish who stood behind this extremist group, who financed its members, and how knives, axes and other weapons were brought aboard," Netanyahu said. "We also need to ask what large sums of money found aboard the boats were doing there, and for whom they were intended."
    An Israel Defense Forces internal probe of the flotilla raid is already underway. The head of the investigation, General (res. ) Giora Eiland, will soon begin to compile the findings of the probe into a report. In discussions that preceded the flotilla's arrival and forcible takeover, legal experts with the Military Advocate General's Corps and the Foreign Ministry offered similar opinions which stated that there was no legal impediment to stopping a ship whose operators have already announced an intention to trespass a blockade, even if the takeover is done in international waters.

    The legal opinions were based on precedent-setting cases involving the American and British navies as well as citations of the San Remo international law manual of 1994. Nonetheless, Foreign Ministry officials cautioned representatives of the defense establishment that it would be difficult to justify a military operation outside of Israel's territorial waters from both a political and public relations standpoint.

    Thus, according to senior figures familiar with the details of the discussions, the Foreign Ministry urged defense officials to launch their operations to stop the flotilla only after the ships had crossed Gaza's maritime boundaries. The ministry's diplomats repeated this request on more than one occasion.
    "If somebody breaks into your home and you shoot him after he enters the doorway, there's no problem in justifying this action in court," said a senior ministry official. "But if you attack the burglar while he is on his way to your house at a distance of two blocks away, then you have a problem."

    "It was made clear that we can ultimately prove that we acted according to international law, but this will be very complicated and we will absorb many denunciations along the way," the official said.
    Senior figures involved in the planning of the operation praised the improved cooperation between the defense establishment and the Foreign Ministry. While the diplomats' warnings were understood, their recommendation was not accepted due to "operational reasons."

    "The navy expressed concern that it would not be able to stop the flotilla once the ships reached within 20 miles of the coast," said an official who had a hand in the planning of the operation. "The IDF was fearful that the naval forces would not have adequate time to complete the operation. The army wanted to overtake the ships gradually and at a relatively great distance from the coast." Defense and diplomatic officials began preparations for the flotilla's arrival two months prior to its voyage. The efforts were led by the IDF, the Defense Ministry, the Foreign Ministry, and the national media relations division of the Prime Minister's Office.

    While officials who took part in the discussions reported full cooperation between the agencies, the National Security Council - the body legally empowered to direct the bureaucratic end of the government's diplomatic and security policy - first held a meeting on the flotilla just 10 days prior to its journey. The NSC was not included in the primary preparations and response.
    Riđđu, arctic storm

  6. #46

    IDF report defends navy decision to drop commandos into Gaza flotilla

    from Haaretz.com

    First Israeli probe of deadly May 31 raid, led by Maj. Gen. Eiland, cites intelligence failures but does not single out any officers for rebuke.

    By Anshel Pfeffer

    The Israel Defense Force committee investigating the navy's deadly raid on a Turkish-flagged aid flotilla bound for the Gaza Strip found the incident to be the consequence of failed intelligence and a lack of improper preparation for the operation, according to its report released on Monday. Nine Turkish pro-Palestinian activists were killed in the May 31 raid after they used clubs and knives to attack Israel Navy commandos boarding the Turkish-flagged Mavi Marmara. Israel had previously warned that it would take over the ships to enforce its blockade of the Gaza Strip.

    The committee led by Maj. Gen. (res. ) Giora Eiland, however, characterized the failures made at the planning level as "mistakes," rather than as negligence or fault. The report also found that the navy would have had no means to stop the ship at sea without endangering the vessel, and thus backed the decision to carry out a commando operation. The committee said in its report that the navy had failed to sufficiently consider the possibility that the commandos would encounter violent resistance when attempting to keep the ships out of Gaza.

    It also criticized the navy for not cooperating sufficiently with the Mossad in gathering information ahead of the flotilla's arrival and to discuss the process by which the raid was approved. The report did not, however, call for disciplinary action against particular officers. "To my relief, the investigation found no negligence or failures on any significant matters, and that it was due to mistakes made at the relatively top levels that caused the results to be different from what was planned," Eiland said. He also said that some aspects of the operation could be "praised," particularly the way the Shayetet 13 commandos acted during the operation and the quick and efficient evacuation of casualties.

    Eiland's is the first to complete its investigation. The Turkel Committee, appointed by the government to examine whether the raid adhered to international law, has just begun its investigation. A team from the State Comptroller's Office will be beginning its own probe of the flotilla raid shortly. Meanwhile, the High Court of Justice on Monday opened the door to expanding the authority of the Turkel Commission. The five-member panel was was appointed by the cabinet in June to investigate the naval raid - which resulted in the deaths of nine Turkish pro-Palestinian activists aboard the Mavi Marmara - and its adherence to international law.

    The panel currently has a limited mandate. It is only supposed to determine whether Israel's efforts to stop the flotilla from reaching Gaza accorded with international law, and whether the soldiers' use of force was proportionate. It has no power to subpoena witnesses and cannot draw personal conclusions against those involved in the raid. Turkel, however, wants to turn it into a full-fledged governmental inquiry committee with real teeth. That would allow it to subpoena witnesses and documents, warn those who testify before it that the panel's findings could harm them, and hire outside experts in relevant fields. At the hearing Monday to address a petition against the committee's limited authority, the justices said the court would consider widening the panel's mandate if its members seek to probe persons or events outside of their jurisdiction, including Israel Defense Forces soldiers.
    Riđđu, arctic storm

  7. #47

    Israel used 'incredible violence' against Gaza aid flotilla, says UN Human Rights Council

    Israeli troops broke international law by storming an aid flotilla bound for Gaza, according to a UN inquiry, which found that the killings of activists on-board were comparable to "summary executions".

    By Jon Swaine in New York and Adrian Blomfield in Jerusalem

    Published: 1:37AM BST 23 Sep 2010

    The United Nations (that's a contraduction in terms if ever there was!) never ceases to amaze me with its bias, rampant stupidity and sheer waste of time and resources...............

    The sharply critical report found there was "clear evidence to support prosecutions" against Israel for "wilful killing" and torture committed in the raid on the flotilla on May 31. Nine activists on a Turkish ship were killed as they attempted to breach the Israeli naval blockade of Gaza.

    However, Israel brushed aside the findings of the UN Human Rights Council, which it has consistently denounced as biased against the Jewish state.

    A spokesman for the Israeli foreign ministry accused the body of having a "politicised and extremist approach," adding: "The Human Rights Council blamed Israel prior to the investigation and it is no surprise that they condemn after."

    The investigation mounted by the Council has largely been superseded by a separate inquiry launched by Ban Ki-Moon, the UN secretary general, which has won the backing of the United States, Britain and much of the international community.

    This investigation, which is being headed by Geoffrey Palmer, the former prime minister of New Zealand, has yet to report its findings.

    In an unprecedented move, Israel agreed to co-operate with Mr Palmer's inquiry in August, largely in an attempt to diminish the credibility of the Human Rights Council investigation.

    Israel maintains that its soldiers acted in self-defence after coming under attack from activists wielding clubs, axes and metal rods.

    However the report found that Israeli commandos' response to the flotilla was disproportionate and "betrayed an unacceptable level of brutality".

    "The conduct of the Israeli military and other personnel towards the flotilla passengers was not only disproportionate to the occasion but demonstrated levels of totally unnecessary and incredible violence," the report said.

    "The circumstances of the killing of at least six of the passengers were in a manner consistent with an extralegal, arbitrary and summary execution," it added.

    The 56-page report also said that the Israeli blockade was itself unlawful, because of the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, meaning Israel's claim that it was entitled to use force to defend the blockade should be dismissed.

    The Human Rights Council, a subsidiary body of the UN General Assembly, has courted controversy for its excessive focus on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

    While it has passed over a dozen resolutions condemning Israel since it was created in 2006, the council has been more reluctant to censure states such as Sudan, which has been accused of serious human rights violations in Darfur.

    The United States withdrew from the council in 2008 but rejoined when President Barack Obama became president last year.

    Israel, which has also launched its own domestic inquiry into the raid on the aid flotilla, refused to co-operate with the council's probe.

    But Hamas, the Islamist group which controls Gaza, welcomed the inquiry's findings and called on the international community to take action by bringing Israeli commanders involved in the raid to trial.

    The inquiry was completed by Karl Hudson-Phillips, a former judge of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Desmond de Silva, a former chief prosecutor of the Sierra Leone War Crimes Tribunal, and Shanthi Dairiam, as Malaysian human rights expert.

  8. #48

    Israel Navy Intercepts Missile Loaded Cargo Vessel Bound for Gaza

    March 15, 2011 tamir_eshel

    Victoria being intercepted earlier today by Israeli Naval Commandos. Photo: IDF Spokesman

    C-704 anti-ship missile found by the Israeli commandos on the Victoria. This Iranian made missile was destined for the Palestinians in the Gaza strip. Photo: IDF Spokesman,

    This morning Israeli Naval vessels intercepted the Liberian flagged cargo ship ‘Victoria’ about 200 miles west of the Israeli coast, after intelligence reports indicated the vessel could be carrying arms shipments destined for Gaza.

    An initial investigation revealed the ship was loaded with C-704 anti-ship missiles – shore-to-sea missiles with a range of 35 km that could put at risk Israeli vessels at sea as well as strategic infrastructure targets near Ashkelon. Iran is known to possess and is actually producing such missiles, which, along with identifying documents (including a missile identification document, below) gives substantial evidence of Iran’s involvement in the weapons smuggling attempt, and yet another example of Iran’s use of innocent merchant ships as a means of transferring arms to terrorist organizations.

    By first daylight, Naval commandos boarded the vessel and verified the existence of weaponry on board. Following the encounter with the Israeli Navy the Victoria headed to an Israeli port of Ashdod for detailed inspection of its cargo. The vessel was on its way from Mersin Port in Turkey to Alexandria Port in Egypt. According to Israeli assessments, the true destination of the weapon shipment was probably the Egyptian port of El-Arish, from where the shipment would be smuggled on land, through tunnels, reching terror organizations operating in the Gaza Strip.

    According to shipment documents and crew questioning, the vessel initially departed from Lattakia Port in Syria and then proceeded to Mersin Port in Turkey. “Turkey is not considered as involved in the incident in any way” an Israeli statement clarified.

    The interception of the Victoria today is only one stop in the Israeli pursuit of arms transfers from Iran to terror organizations in the Middle East, including Hamas and Hizbollah. Interestingly, the recent vessels involved in arms smuggling from Iran – the Hansa India, Francop and Victoria were registered in Germany.

    Some of the Iranian arms shipment interdicted by the Israel Navy in recent years include:

    May 7th, 2001: The Santorini, a Syrian registered ship acquired by the PFLP-GC terrorist group, was intercepted on its way from Lebanon to the Gaza Strip. It carried 40 tons of weapons, including anti-aircraft missiles, mortars, rifles and guns, grenades, mines and explosive material, anti-tank RPG-7 missile-launchers, and artillery rockets. The ship’s captain, a convicted weapon smuggler and two of his relatives abroad the ship had been involved in three previous smuggling attempts backed by Hezbollah and PFLP-GC. Part of the anti-tank weaponry originated from Iran.

    January 3rd, 2002: Karin-A was intercepted in the Red Sea, heading towards Gaza. The ship 50 tons of weapons packed in 80 submergible containers. The shipment included RPG-7 rockets, RPG-18 anti-tank rocket launchers, Iranian-made anti-tank and anti-personnel mines, 2,200 kg of military grade high-explosive, assault rifles, machine guns, and hand grenades, 700,000 rounds of small ammunition, and diving equipment. The submergible containers were to be dropped into the sea and then washed ashore the Gaza Strip or picked up by a smaller vessel and delivered to the Strip. The PLO and leadership of the Palestinian Authority were directly involved in the plan. The ship was purchased in Lebanon and sailed to Sudan and Yemen to pick up civilian goods to disguise the weapons aboard.

    May 21st, 2003: Abu Hasan, a fishing boat was intercepted at sea west of the Israeli port of Haifa, sailing from Lebanon to Egypt carrying a shipment of explosives sent from Lebanon, bound for the Gaza Strip. The cargo also contained radio-activation systems for remote activation of explosive charges, rocket fuses and detonators.

    October 12th, 2009 Hansa India sailing from Iran flying a German flag, Hansa India was due to unload a cargo of eight containers in Egypt. Following warnings from the German authorities, the vessel was not unloaded and continued to Malta where it was seized and found to be carrying bullets and industrial material intended for the production of weapons, seemingly bound for Syria.

    November 3th, 2009: Francop, a German vessel was intercepted by the Israel Navy off the coast of Cyprus en route from Iran to Syria, The ship contained 36 containers with 500 tons of arms: 9,000 mortar bombs, 3,000 Katyusha rockets, 3,000 gun shells, 20,000 grenades and half of a million rounds of small ammunition, all hidden behind sacks of polyethelene. The arms shipment was bound to be transferred on land to Hezbullah in Lebanon. The Iranians exploited a civilian ship with its crew unaware of the cargo they were transporting. The weapons cache was loaded at the Bandar Abbas Port in Iran on an Iranian vessel and was transferred at an Egyptian port, unloaded onto the Francop.

    A weapons cache uncovered in the cargo bay of a Liberian flagged vessel Victoria, intercepted toay by the Israel Navy. The cahche contained 120mm (shown here) and 60mm mortar bombs, and other arms. Photos: IDF Spokesman

    © 2011 defense-update.com

  9. #49

    IDF Chief of Staff: "The War on Weapon Smuggling Continues"

    Weaponry found on-board the Victoria on 16 March 2011. (Photo: Israel Defense Forces)

    15:16 GMT, March 17, 2011

    The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) presented the Iraninan weaponry found on Victoria on Wednesday (Mar. 16), after the ship docked in Ashdod the previous. In three, large cargo containers, six ready-to-be-launched C-704 ani-ship missiles were found, two launchers, two exterior launchers and two launch pads.

    Additionally, 230 mortar shells sized 60 to 120-mm with a range of 10 kilometers were found, 2,260 mortar shells of the same size but with a range of 2.5 kilometers and as many as 74,889 bullets for AK-47 rifles. The weaponry was concealed behind sacs of lentils and cotton, spread throughout 36 containters overall.

    "The interception of this weapons-carrying ship gives an answer to all those who were dubious, attacked and criticized Israel about intercepting ships attempting to reach the Gaza Strip," stressed the Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who'd seen the weapons found. The Prime Minister added saying, "This is our duty, not just our right, to stop these ships and strip them of their weapons, which came from Iran. They passed through Syria and were on their way to terrorist operatives in the Gaza Strip with a goal of harming citizens of the State of Israel."

    "I have no doubt that the otherside will continue trying to acquire these weapons"

    Minister of Defense, Ehud barak, congradulated the Chief of Staff on the success of the Naval Commando's operation and addressed their discovery saying, "A very dangerous attempt was thwarted, and I have no doubt that the otherside will continue trying to acquire these weapons. The missiles caught could have changed the face of the activities at the Gaza shores, to destroy ships and vessels."

    According to him, "We are dealing with an axis that consists of Iran, Syria and Hezbollah trying to strengthen terrorist operatives in the Gaza Strip. The aerial struggle against them continues as well as those at sea, on land and in every place and every direction both near and far. It will continue and id a crucial battle."

    "We don't need to be proud of these successes but to be satisfied"

    The Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, was briefed about the weapons as well and said the Naval Commando's activities are done "quietly, modestly and with determination. What we are seeing here is the final result. We don't need to be proud of these successes but to be satisfied by professional achievements. There won't always be successes, this war will continue. We need to work from afar and in the region, overtly and hidden, in order to prevent weapon smuggling."

    Commander of the Navy, Maj. Gen. Eliezer Marom, addressed the success of the operation.

    "Weapons are smuggled through the Red Sea and sometimes through the Mediterranean. On this ship we found a relatively small amount, but these weapons are different from anything we've seen to date," he said and added that the missiles found today, "Distrupt balance, weaponry that can cause harm to Navy ships, civilian vessels and some of the natural gas reserves in Israel's shores."

    (To view more photos of weaponry found on Victoria, visit the IDF flickr page at: http://goo.gl/bLGDH)

    Jonatan Urich, Tamara Shavit

  10. #50

    Hamas fires a barrage of mortars on southern Israel

    Palestinian militants in Gaza fired more than 50 rockets into Israel on Saturday, the heaviest barrage in two years, Israeli officials said.

    Palestinian Hamas border policemen inspect a destroyed Hamas compound after an Israeli strike in Gaza City Photo: AFP/GETTY

    4:30PM GMT 19 Mar 2011

    Palestinian militants in Gaza fired more than 50 rockets into Israel on Saturday, the heaviest barrage in two years, Israeli officials said.

    A Hamas official was killed and four civilians were wounded when Israel hit back with tank fire and air strikes, said Gaza Health Ministry spokesman Adham Abu Salmia.

    Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said he will file a complaint at the U.N. after Saturday's unusually large barrage of rockets. In a statement, Lieberman said the Palestinians "primary goal is destroying Israel."

    The violence comes amid increasing calls for reconciliation between Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and his bitter rivals, the Islamic militant group Hamas. Abbas is seeking U.N. recognition for a Palestinian state by the fall and is currently lobbying for votes worldwide. Hamas used force to disperse a reconciliation rally in Gaza. Some reporters were later beaten up, threatened and briefly detained.

    Israeli police spokesman Tamir Avtabi said Gaza militants fired 54 mortar shells at Israeli border communities within 15 minutes. He said two Israeli civilians were lightly wounded by shrapnel and residents were advised to stay at home or in bomb shelters.

    Hayim Yellin, head of the Eshkol region where the mortars exploded, said they were of the same type as those intercepted on a cargo ship last week loaded with weapons Israel said were sent by Iran to Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip.

    Hamas acknowledged it launched some of the mortars — an unusual move as the Islamic militant group does not usually take responsibility for such attacks. Hamas fears triggering another Israeli invasion similar to a three-week operation aimed at stopping daily Palestinian shelling two years ago that killed about 1,400 Palestinians.

    Israeli police said the mortar barrage Saturday was the heaviest since that round of fighting.

    Israel holds Hamas responsible for all violence originating in Gaza, though Hamas usually blames smaller groups for rocket fire.

    Hamas spokesman Ismail Radwan said the shelling was in reaction to recent Israeli airstrikes that killed militants. He warned Israel "not to test Hamas' response."

    Hamas ousted Fatah from Gaza in bloody street battles in 2007. Since then, Hamas controls Gaza and the Western backed secular Fatah rules the West Bank.

    Repeated efforts to reconcile the two rival governments have failed. Palestinians have held rallies in Gaza and the West Bank in recent days calling for the two sides to resolve their differences.

    The internal Palestinian rift makes their vision of statehood harder to achieve and hinders their ability to reach a peace agreement with Israel.

    Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians collapsed last year over disputes about Israeli construction in the West bank, areas Palestinians want as parts of their future state.

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