Two American official have confirmed that Israeli warplanes bombed a convoy of trucks in Sudan in January that was believed to be carrying arms to be smuggled into Gaza, the New York Times reported Friday.
The two, who are privy to classified intelligence assessments, said that Iran had been involved in the effort to smuggle weapons to Gaza. They also noted that there had been intelligence reports that an operative with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps had gone to Sudan to coordinate the effort.
According to the report, however, one former official said that the exact provenance of the arms that were being smuggled via Sudan was unclear.
The Sudanese army issued a statement Friday saying it was aware of an airstrike allegedly launched by Israeli warplanes when it happened last January, according to the Sudan Tribune website.
According to the report, the army consulted with Egypt. The spokesperson of Sudan’s military, Osman Al-Agbash, said that the army “took all necessary procedures and contacted parties of concern with this issue”.
The Sudanese state minister for highways, Mabrouk Mubarak Saleem, said that Israel carried out two airstrikes – one on January 27 and the second on February 11.
According to another Sudanese sources quoted by the al-Jazeera network, in one of the attacks Israel sank a ship carrying weapons.
Conflicting reports on casualties
There are conflicting reports on the number of people killed in the strike. The Los Angeles Times quoted sources in Sudan as saying that hundreds of refugees were killed as three convoys were attacked.
According to one of the sources, the strike was carried out by American warplanes, although the US army denied striking in Sudan.
On Thursday, two senior Sudanese politicians confirmed that a weapons convoy had been attacked last January on its way to Egypt. According to the two officials, nearly all of the convoy members were killed.
According to reports, in January Israeli intelligence located the convoy of 17 trucks, which was believed to have been making its way to the Gaza Strip, northwest of the city of Port Sudan.
The reports stated that the Air Force planes bombed the convoy, destroyed all the trucks and killed 39 people.
A senior Sudanese politician noted that the attack was carried out in a deserted place in the eastern part of the country. According to the official, about two weeks ago members of an Arab tribe submitted an official appeal with the authorities, asking for the return of the bodies of more than 30 people killed in the strike.
He said he did not know why the Sudanese government would not confirm the strike. Sudan's newspapers refrained from reporting of the attack, perhaps due to the confusion in the country after its airspace had been violated so easily.
A senior Hamas official on Thursday evening denied the reports that the convoy of trucks allegedly attacked by Israeli planes in January was bearing weapons for Gaza. Salah al-Bardawil told the Quds Faras news agency that these were false reports meant to justify an attack on Sudan.