Wednesday, January 26th | 24 Shevat 5782

March 15, 2011 3:14 pm

Chinese Made Anti Ship Missiles On Board ‘Victoria’ (PHOTOS)

avatar by Maxine Dovere

Did the two Iranian vessels that recently transited Suez leave behind some souvenirs?  Did the cargo ship Victoria, which left the same Syrian port, act to continue transport of weapons intended to be smuggled to Hamas?

In a resistance free boarding, the Israeli Navy conducted a “routine activity” search designed to maintain security and prevent arms smuggling. The IDF unit met with no resistance from the crew on-board.  The cargo vessel ‘Victoria’ carried a manifest which included various types of weaponry. Sailing under a Liberian flag, the vessel was intercepted some 200 miles west of Israel’s coast and is now being led to an Israeli port for further searches and detailed cargo inspection.  As of Tuesday, DST, at 4 P.M., at least four Chinese-made anti-ship missiles with a range of 35 kilometers (about 22 miles) were found aboard the vessel.  Deputy Navy Commander Rear Admiral Rani Ben-Yehuda said the C-704 missiles would have threatened Israeli sea-based strategic installations and navy vessels.

Originating in Mersin Port in Turkey and slated to sail to Alexandria Port in Egypt, the Victoria left the Syrian port of Lattakai March 15.  The ship sailed to Turkey where it was to unload the weaponry, which was to have traveled overland to Gaza. (The IDF’s indicated that Turkey was not the place of origination, but rather simply a transfer point) In a preliminary search, the boarding party found the vessel was carrying significant amounts of arms and military equipment which appear to be listed in the vessel’s freight manifest.

The ‘Victoria’ was boarded by commandos from the Israeli Navy’s Flotilla 13, also known as the Shayetet. The IDF has stated that Turkey is not involved in the Victoria shipment “in any way.”

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In conjunction with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the IDF has alerted those countries having an interest in the ‘Victoria’ of the actions and conditions  being taken;  to the German authorities, because of the German ownership of the ship. In addition, the government of Liberia, whose flag it was flying under, was notified, as well as France, due to the French shipping company.

The Algemeiner has reached out to the embassies or consulates of several countries involved in this incident including Turkey, France and Germany and is awaiting comments from embassy or consulate spokespersons.

Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz was reported to have updated Minister of Defense Ehud Barak. IDF Navy Commander, Maj. Gen. Eliezer Marom commanded the action and the physical interception was completed under the command of the Navy Special Forces Commander. The boarding operation at sea was approved as “necessary in accordance with government directives in light of the Chief of the General Staff’s recommendations.”  The IDF will continue its intelligence and operational activities in order to maintain Israel’s security interests and prevent arms smuggling that will fuel the terror infrastructure in the Gaza Strip and Lebanon.

When Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced the operation he stated his full approved of the Navy’s interception, noting that “We had a solid basis that on board the ship was weaponry destined for use against Israel”… The operation was carried out at sea in accordance with all international rules. The weaponry originated in Iran, which is trying to arm the Gaza Strip.”

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs communications stresses that Israel acted in self-defense: “illegal arms smuggled to the Gaza Strip poses a direct and imminent threat to the safety and security of the State of Israel and its citizens,”…Such transfer of weaponry to terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip constitutes 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 (para. 6), as well as a violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1373(2001).

Defense Minister Ehud Barak stood solidly behind the operation saying: “Today, the IDF and its fighters thwarted the smuggling of weaponry – which was due to have been used against the residents of Israel – to the Gaza Strip. The goal of the smuggling was to harm the security of Israel. The IDF acted in order to defend the security of the country. The attempt to smuggle weaponry to Gaza shows that radical elements are continuing in their attempts to attack Israel and undermine regional stability.”

Farsi-language manuals for the C-704 anti ship missiles.

Deputy Navy Commander Rear Admiral Rani Ben-Yehuda said the C-704 missiles would have threatened Israeli sea-based strategic installations and navy vessels.

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