Israel seizes Gaza-bound ship packed with Iranian rockets
An Israeli official said that if the weapons had made it to Gaza, "millions of Israelis" would have been under threat. (AFP/File)
The Israeli navy seized a ship in the Red Sea on Wednesday that was allegedly carrying dozens of Iranian-supplied rockets intended for Palestinian fighters in the besieged Gaza Strip, the IDF said.
It said the Panamanian-flagged cargo vessel Klos-C was boarded in international waters without resistance from its 17-strong crew, and would be escorted to the Israeli port of Eilat within days.
"It was a complex, covert operation," military spokesman Peter Lerner said of the seizure some 1,000 miles (1,800 km) from occupied Palestine.
He claimed that "dozens" of M302 rockets were found aboard the Klos-C.
"The M302 in its most advanced model can strike over 100 miles, and if they would have reached Gaza, ultimately that would have meant millions of Israelis under threat," Lerner said.
Israeli television footage showed what appeared to be marines inspecting a rocket on the floor of a ship hold, with cement bags labeled "Made in Israel" in English next to it.
Lerner claimed the rockets were flown from Syria to Iran, from which they were shipped first to Iraq and then toward Sudan. Had they reached the African coast, they would have probably been smuggled overland through Egypt to Gaza, he added.
Iran had orchestrated the shipment, Lerner said, describing the process as months in the making.
The maritime tracking site marinetraffic.com showed the last position of the Klos C as the Oman Gulf on February 22.
Lerner said the crew came from a number of different countries and there was no immediate indication that they knew the nature of their cargo.