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World Council for the Cedars Revolution

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Report: US informed Israel of arms ship PDF Print E-mail
Written by Ynet, AP, JPost   
Friday, 06 November 2009

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How Flotilla 13 seized the 'Francop'

Report: US informed Israel of arms ship

London-based al-Sharq al-Awsat newspaper says vessel carrying Iranian weapons was first spotted by Americans while docking in Dubai

Roee Nahmias Published:  11.06.09, 11:47 / Israel News 

The Iranian arms ship seized by the Israel Defense Forces was discovered thanks to American activity, the London-based Arabic-language al-Sharq al-Awsat newspaper reported Friday, quoting Israeli sources.

On Thursday, IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi praised Mossad agents for helping obtain the intelligence which led to the vessel's capture.

According to the Arab report, the Americans spotted a suspicious Iranian ship entering the Gulf of Oman and docking at Dubai's Jebel Ali port in mid October. The boat belonged to Iran's national shipping company, IRISL.

The US reportedly informed Israel of the ship. According to the report, Israel suggested bombing the ship in the Red Sea, but the Americans rejected the idea.

Earlier this week it was reported that the Iranians had exerted great efforts in an attempt to mislead intelligence officials monitoring the shipment. One of the deceiving moves was to unload the explosives in an Egyptian port and load them on the Francop ship, which was eventually caught.
 
On Thursday, the Hezbollah organization denied any link to the arms ship and condemned the activity of "Israeli pirates operation in international waters." Syria and Iran also disassociated themselves from the vessel, claiming that the ship had been transporting goods from Syria to Iran and that Israel was disrupting international commerce activity.

Egyptian sources at the Damietta Port, the ship's last docking point, said Thursday that it had been loaded with food products and nothing else.

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3801193,00.html

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Report: US provided info on the 'Francop', Israel wanted to bomb ship
Nov. 6, 2009
JPost.com Staff , THE JERUSALEM POST

The US was the first to tip-off Israel about the route of the 'Francop' cargo ship, which was seized by the Israel Navy overnight Tuesday, London-based Asharq Alawsat newspaper reported on Friday.

The paper quoted Israel officials as saying that Israel had wanted to bomb the Iranian-commissioned arms smuggling ship, but the US vetoed such an attack.

The Jerusalem Post could not confirm the report.

This article can also be read at http://www.jpost.com /servlet/Satellite?cid=1257455198559&pagename=JPArticle%2FShowFull

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How Flotilla 13 seized the 'Francop'

Nov. 5, 2009
Yaakov Katz , THE JERUSALEM POST

The seizure of the Francop cargo ship on Tuesday night joins a long and mostly secret list of missions credited to the Israel Navy's elite commandos from Flotilla 13.

While most of their operations are hidden from the public, navy commandos have played a key role in all of Israel's recent conflicts, including the Second Lebanon War in 2006 and Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip last winter.

On Tuesday night, the commando teams waited on a small, fast patrol boast as the INS Eilat, one of the navy's Sa'ar 5-class corvettes, blocked the Francop's course as it made its way toward Lebanon filled with hundreds of tons of weaponry en route from Iran to Hizbullah.

After Cmdr. Ziv, commander of the Eilat, received permission from the Francop's captain to board the freighter, he radioed the commandos and gave them the green light to close in. A senior IDF officer said on Thursday that two ships were used since the navy was not absolutely certain that there were not armed men aboard the Francop. For this reason, the Sa'ar 5-class ship was deployed; it has greater firepower than some of the navy's smaller vessels.

The commandos scaled ropes and climbed aboard the ship without encountering any resistance. They lined up the crew and, while several sailors kept an eye on them, others searched the cargo containers until they discovered the weaponry.

The last operation in which Flotilla 13 is known to have participated was during the 2006 war, when a team entered the Lebanese coastal town of Tyre in an attempt to capture a senior Hizbullah operative and take out some of the group's long-range missile capability.

The flotilla was also behind the capture of the Karine A arms ship in the Red Sea in 2002, as its made its way to bring weaponry to terrorists in the Gaza Strip. During the second intifada, the elite unit participated in ground operations as well, and was credited with the capture and killing of several senior Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists.

One of the concerns during the Tuesday night interception and seizure was the possibility that some of the containers were booby-trapped. "We took all the necessary precautions," said Ziv.

This article can also be read at http://www.jpost.com /servlet/Satellite?cid=1257455195212&pagename=JPArticle%2FShowFull


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'Ship shows Iran-Lebanon arms route'

Nov. 5, 2009
JPost.com Staff , THE JERUSALEM POST

Following the seizure of a massive shipment of Iranian arms bound for Hizbullah, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Thursday that the successful Israel Navy operation proved the arms flow to Syria and south Lebanon from Iran.

Meanwhile, the Foreign Ministry stepped up diplomatic efforts, inviting foreign ambassadors stationed in Israel to inspect the container-loads of weapons.

The ministry told its staffers to present the weapons that are displayed at the Ashdod port, and detail their capabilities and intended use.

Furthermore, in an apparent effort to increase international pressure on Teheran at the UN, the Foreign Ministry has also instructed Israel's envoys abroad to bring up an the arms capture in discussions with foreign diplomats and media outlets.

Israeli ambassadors were instructed to stress that the attempt to smuggle arms to Syria and Hizbullah was an Iranian violation of a UN Security Council resolution, diplomatic sources told The Jerusalem Post.

"Iran continues to smuggle arms to terrorists under the guise of legitimate international commerce, turning the Mediterranean Sea into a platform for illegal action," the ministry reportedly wrote in a memo to the envoys.

Speaking to Israel Radio, Lieberman said that the public diplomacy arena was now the "most important arena" regarding the issue.

He said the weapons seizure "unequivocally and without a doubt" proved the Iran-Syria-south Lebanon weapons-trafficking route.

He went on to say that Israel would continue seeking to "get a moral majority" in UN institutions, consisting of countries that share "universal, humane values with us," stressing that "we're never going to convince Iran, Syria and [Venezuelan President] Hugo Chavez" to side with Israel.

"Unfortunately, there is currently an automatic majority against us," he lamented, noting, however, that in the recent UN Human Rights Council vote endorsing the Goldstone Commission's report on Operation Cast Lead, a significant number of countries backed Israel's position.

In addition, five MKs will travel to the UK on Sunday to hold discussions with British lawmakers concerning the Iranian weapons shipment, MK Nachman Shai (Kadima) announced in a statement Thursday.

Shai, who serves as the head of an Israel-British inter-parliamentary friendship union, said Tzipi Hotovely (Likud), Anastasia Michaeli (Israel Beitenu), Majallie Whbee (Kadima) and Yitzhak Vaknin (Shas) would be going on the trip, to meet with members of the British parliament, government officials and members of the press.

Shai said in his statement that "in the war on terror, including the Goldstone report, Israel is uniquely positioned and fights an international, just and moral battle."

Meanwhile, OC Navy Admiral Eli Marom and naval commanders will meet Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and brief him on Tuesday night's operation. IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi and Defense Minister Ehud Barak will also be present at the meeting.

The ship was released overnight Wednesday after 36 weapons-filled containers were unloaded, and the 12 crew members boarded the vessel and made their way back on their planned route.

Hundreds of tons of weaponry, the largest arms seizure in Israel's history, were intercepted in the daring raid by Israeli naval commandos aboard the cargo ship sailing 100 nautical miles west of Israel.

The arms shipment was 10 times the size of the cache found on the Palestinian arms ship Karine A in 2002, defense officials said.

The different types of arms offloaded from the ship were familiar to Israel as those Hizbullah already possesses in its arsenal, Israel Radio quoted defense officials as saying.

Military sources assessed Teheran would be forced to change its smuggling routes following the Israel Navy's successful operation.

The cache was hidden inside shipping containers belonging to the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL) which departed from the Bandar Abbas Port in Iran some 10 days ago, were unloaded in the Egyptian port of Damietta and then loaded onto the Francop, a German vessel flying an Antiguan flag.

On Wednesday, Netanyahu addressed the international community concerning Iran's material support for terrorist organizations.

"Iran is sending these weapons to terror organizations to harm Israeli cities and kill its citizens," Netanyahu said. "The time has come for the international community to exert real pressure on Iran to stop this criminal activity and to support Israel when it defends itself against these terrorists and their patrons."

Regarding those who may doubt Iran's continual support for terrorist organizations, the prime minister said, "Whoever still needed decisive proof that Iran continues to send weapons to terrorist organizations, received it today in a very clear and unequivocal way."

This article can also be read at http://www.jpost.com /servlet/Satellite?cid=1256799097285&pagename=JPArticle%2FShowFull

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The haul: 320 tons of Katyushas, other rockets, shells and bullets

Nov. 5, 2009
Yaakov Katz , THE JERUSALEM POST

The IDF issued Thursday what it said were damning photos showing Katyusha rockets discovered last week by UNIFIL troops in Lebanon that are of the same make as the rockets seized by the Navy when it boarded the Francop cargo ship Wednesday.

On Thursday, the IDF finished removing the weaponry from the containers and transferred it from Ashdod to a base in the center in the country where it will be inspected and reviewed by munitions experts.

The final weight of the cache was 320 tons and included 9,000 mortar shells, thousands of 107-mm. Katyusha rockets that have a range of 15 kilometers, some 600 Russian-made 122-mm. rockets with a 40-km. range and hundreds of thousands of Kalashnikov bullets.

IDF sources said they were surprised by the significant quantity of mortar shells. "This is the most we have seen in a single shipment," one senior officer involved in reviewing the arms cache said Thursday.

Other officials said it was possible that Hizbullah was lacking mortar shells or was planning on using them more prominently in the event of a future conflict with the IDF.

Most of the weaponry, the senior officer said, appeared to have come from the Far East and Russia, while some of it was made in Iran. Most of it appeared to have been manufactured in the past few years, the officer said.

In one of the photos released by the IDF, several 107-mm. Katyusha rockets are seen on launchers in the yard of a home in southern Lebanon, the identical location from where a rocket was fired into the Galilee last week.

"This is the same type that was on the ship and is shipped from Iran to Hizbullah in Lebanon," the IDF said.

Meanwhile Thursday, defense officials issued criticisms of Egypt, which they said had failed to properly inspect the Iranian containers as they sat waiting to be loaded onto the Francop at the Diametta Port on the Mediterranean side of the Suez Canal.

The containers were clearly marked as belonging to the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL), which is a company that is known to assist the regime in illegal arms trafficking to Hizbullah.

"United Nations Security Council Resolution 1803 explicitly asks countries to board and inspect IRISL ships and containers," one official said. "The Egyptians could have done more."

This article can also be read at http://www.jpost.com /servlet/Satellite?cid=1257455195197&pagename=JPArticle%2FShowFull

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Israel files UN grievance over arms ship

Yitzhak Benhorin

Jerusalem's UN ambassador urges Secretary-General Ban, Security Council to probe Iran's foiled arms smuggling to Hezbollah

WASHINGTON – Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gabriella Shalev filed an official grievance with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the UN Security Council following Wednesday's seizure of the Francop arms vessel by the Israel Navy.

Thursday's letter stated that the vessel's cargo  carried "36 containers of hundreds of tons of a wide range of weaponry, including rockets, missiles, mortars, grenades and small arms and light weapons… Concealed, wrapped, and declared as civilian cargo in the ship’s manifest.

"The intended route of the Francop, coupled with the types of weaponry found on board, raise serious concerns that this incident also constitutes a violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701 and 1373," said Shalev's letter.

Israel alleges that the foiled arms smuggling is the continuation of an ongoing  pattern by Iran and other UN member states, which systematically violate UN Security Council resolutions with the sole aim of destabilizing the area.
 
Moreover, says Shalev, "Iran’s national shipping company (IRISL) has been repeatedly found to be involved in transporting weapons and other banned items in violation of UN Security Council resolutions."

Shalev urged the UN to take immediate action and said that Israel is willing to lend it full cooperation and supply the international body with all the information it uncovered regarding the ship.

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3801087,00.html



 
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