Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Israel Intercepts Arms-Laden Ship

Via Al-Jazeera -

A ship carrying hundreds of tons of weapons has been seized by Israeli commandos, government and military officials have said.

Israeli military said on Wedenesday the arms were destined for the Lebanese armed political group Hezbollah.

They also said an Iranian document was found on board, showing that the arms shipment originated from Iran.

The ship, the Francop, is operated by the United Feeder Services, a Cyprus-based shipping company that said it picked up the cargo in Damietta, Egypt, according to the Associated Press news agency.

Liutenant-Colonel Avital Leibovich, the Israeli military spokeswoman, said: "It's a cargo certificate that shows that it was from a port in Iran.

"All the cargo certificates are stamped at the ports of origin, and this one was stamped at an Iranian port."

Israeli commandos boarded the ship before dawn in the waters near Cyprus.

Rear Admiral Roni Ben-Yehuda, the deputy Israeli navy commander, told a briefing that "hundreds of tons" of weapons were found.

His estimate was much higher than an earlier one of more than 60 tons.

The weapons were "a drop in the ocean" of arms being shipped to Hezbollah, Ben-Yehuda said.

But hours after the seizure, Israel had not provided evidence that the arms were meant for the Lebanese guerrillas.

Speaking at a news conference in the Syrian capital, Damascus, Walid al-Muallem, Syria's foreign minister, said the ship was carrying civilian goods from Syria to Iran.


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