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Gaza groups deny Israel claims of Iran weapons shipment
Published Wednesday 05/03/2014 (updated) 07/03/2014 15:08
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An Israeli navy vessel is pictured off the country's northern coast on
April 25, 2013 (AFP/File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Israel claimed that it intercepted a ship in the Red Sea on Wednesday carrying Iranian "advanced weaponry" bound for Palestinian militants in Gaza, the military said.

Representatives of both Hamas and Islamic Jihad, however, denied the accusations, with Hamas officials pointing out that Gaza is under a complete naval blockade by Israel that would make any shipment of arms into the besieged coastal enclave impossible.

Gaza Ministry of Interior spokesman Islam Shahwan said in a statement that Israeli claims were a "dangerous move" to justify Israel's seven-year long blockade.

Shahwan urged journalists to avoid "being tricked by the Israeli narrative about capturing a ship carrying weapons to Gaza," adding that "the sea is completely besieged and closed by the Israeli navy, and any ship which sails will be obstructed."

An Islamic Jihad official in Gaza also said that the group has no information on the weapon shipment intercepted by Israel.

The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told Ma'an that he has "no clear data on the subject, but if the information is true it is a medal of honor to the one who sent the shipment."

Israel, which has long accused Iran and Syria of providing military aid to Lebanon's Hezbollah and Palestinian militant groups, said the ship was carrying "advanced weaponry," including rockets "capable of striking anywhere in Israel."

The military said the Syrian-made weapons aboard the "Klos-C" were shipped overland to Iran and then onward towards Gaza by sea before being intercepted between Sudan and Eritrea.

"Dozens of surface-to-surface M302 Syrian-manufactured rockets were found (aboard)," Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner told reporters, adding that the crew of the ship had "fully cooperated."

"We know for a fact the Iranians are behind this shipment," Lerner said. "We've been following this for several months."

The military said in an earlier statement it had "prevented an attempt to smuggle an Iranian shipment of advanced weaponry intended for terrorist organizations operating in the Gaza Strip."

The military spokesman's office tweeted that the rockets were "capable of striking anywhere in Israel."

A rocket is seen on a ship seized by the Israeli navy in the Red Sea
in this handout picture released by the Israeli military on March 5, 2014.
(IDF/Handout via Reuters)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the operation proved that Iran was playing a double-game with the international community, conducting talks on its controversial nuclear program while supporting "terrorism."

"This clandestine operation was conducted by Iran. While Iran is conducting these talks, smiling to the international community, it continues to arm terrorist groups, continues to perpetrate terrorism around the world," Netanyahu, who is currently in the United States, said in a video statement.

Militants in the Gaza Strip, which is governed by Hamas, have fired dozens of rockets at Israel since the beginning of the year, all of which have landed harmlessly in Israel.

Israel, meanwhile, has launched numerous air strikes on the Gaza Strip and soldiers have repeatedly opened fire on protesters near the border, killing at least eight people since the beginning of the year and injuring dozens.

The ship interception came just hours after the Israeli army claimed to have struck two Hezbollah fighters as they tried to plant a bomb near the Israeli-Syrian frontier.

It also came just over a week after Israel reportedly bombarded Hezbollah positions inside Lebanon for the first time since the 2006 war, prompting a threat of retaliation.

The Gaza Strip has been under a severe economic blockade imposed by the State of Israel since 2006.

The blockade was imposed following the victory of Hamas in the 2006 Palestinian elections and the subsequent 2007 clashes between Fatah and Hamas, which left Hamas in control of the Strip and Fatah in control of the West Bank.

The blockade has severely limited the imports and exports of the Gaza Strip and has led to frequent humanitarian crises and hardship for Gazans.

These have been particularly severe given frequently Israeli military assaults, particularly in 2008-9 and 2012, which killed around 1,400 and 170 Gazans respectively and led to major infrastructural damage.

AFP contributed to this report
1 ) Mel / USA
05/03/2014 16:57
In the words of Maan's George Hale,Dec 27th 2008(morning of Israel's Op.CastLead on Gaza), "Bullsh*t!"
Except that Israel's six F-16 precision-guided missiles did attack,blow up,murder hundreds of men,women,children,elderly &sick in those first few seconds of that 3-week attack on an ENCLOSED,relatively DEFENSELESS open-air POW/REFUGEE camp(against international laws)to show Israeli voters the'power'&'might'of Zionism! Israel is still so full of hasbara "bullsh*t",just like USG propaganda!

2 ) Rondo Mondo / Canada
05/03/2014 17:30
Who would believe Hamas? Israel has intercepted many ships trying to deliver arms to Gaza or other Palestinian terrorists. Do the names Francorp, Victoria or Karine A ring a bell. Egyptian will be asking themselves if any of these missiles were meant to be used against Egypt or only Israel.

3 ) Donna / US
05/03/2014 17:50
Pictures of weapons from a Israeli handbook? Those pictures don't even show sufficient evidence! Yes what those pictures do show is Israeli B***S**T which the whole world can smell!

4 ) Henri / France > Israel
05/03/2014 19:38
Can't you see that the ship was just transporting oranges and olives, Obvious ??

5 ) Simple / Reason
05/03/2014 19:51
Those pictures is a very good explanation why Gaza is not allowed to have sea port as long as Hamas or other Palestinian terrorists are in power.

6 ) shirley / australia
05/03/2014 19:55
how were they getting flying on their own not one ship was able to break isreals seige of gazait is completly sealed plus hamas have no real contact with iran since they fell out with assad iand left syria this also caused rift with iran big time just like isreals so called iranian weapons intercepted off ship that turned out to be 30 yrs old discarded from iraq

7 ) Reuter / REPORT
05/03/2014 20:02
The Israeli navy seized a ship in the Red Sea on Wednesday that was carrying dozens of advanced Iranian-supplied rockets made in Syria that were intended for Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip, the military said. It said the Panamanian-flagged cargo vessel Klos-C was boarded in international waters without resistance from its 17-strong crew, "It was a complex, covert operation," military spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Peter Lerner said of the seizure some 1,000 miles (1,800 km) from Isr

8 ) shirley / australia
05/03/2014 20:04
another dirty loud mouth isreal crap story terrorists guess what isreal pals arent terrorists they are resistence to occupation nad you have then blockaded in awar crime and the state of palestineno 194 of the united nations is entitled to defend itself and allcitizens by any means and again hamas are resistence fighters and are estranged from Iran as they broke with assad in syriaeveryone knows that russians know it everyone knows it

9 ) Outlier / USA
06/03/2014 20:07
Oh, another example of Hamas and Islamic Jihad credibility. Like "winning" the most recent cross-border conflict with Israel.

10 ) William / Israel
09/03/2014 21:40
To #8 - Hey Shirley, better check with the UN on that inaccurate tirade of your's. They determined the blockade around Gaza, in place since 2007, was legally justified. The fact it came 7 years after rockets were flying from Gaza towards Israeli civilians, which is a war crime, seems lost on you.
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