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Israel intercepts Gaza-bound ship for security check

Naval commandoes board cargo ship some 160 miles off Israeli coast, but 'nothing outstanding found'

Yoav Zitun, Reuters
Published: 04.22.12, 20:49 / Israel News

Israeli naval forces intercepted on Sunday a Liberian-flagged cargo ship that was headed to Gaza. Commandoes boarded the vessel for a "security check," military sources said.

 

The ship was intercepted outside Israel's territorial waters due to suspicions it was carrying weapons designated for terror organizations in Gaza. The captain authorized the subsequent search of the vessel by Shayetet 13 soldiers.

 

Israel routinely patrols the seas for ships suspected of carrying weapons destined for Palestinian terrorists. A year ago Israel seized a cargo ship it said held Iranian-supplied arms intended for the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

 

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The official said so far "nothing outstanding has been found" on the ship, and declined to provide details, describing the interception as "routine protection of our territorial waters."

 

An Israeli military source said the ship was seized about 160 miles (260 km) off the Israeli coast, and that troops were conducting a "very thorough search of its cargo."

 

The IDF Spokesperson's Unit issued a statement saying, "In the framework of the Navy's routine activity aimed at preventing smuggling, a naval force stopped the Liberian-flagged cargo ship 'Beethoven' some 160 miles off Israel's coast. The search is being conducted with the captain's authorization. If no suspicious items are found, the ship will continue on its way.

 

"The IDF and security forces will continue to act relentlessly in the fight against the terror organizations' efforts to arm themselves with the aim of harming Israeli civilians," the statement read.

 

In the earlier searborne interception in March 2011, Israel said the vessel it seized had set sail from Syria, had stopped in Turkey and had been destined for Alexandria in Egypt.

 

Palestinians use a network of tunnels to smuggle weapons into Gaza from Egypt. Palestinian terrorists in Gaza often fire rockets at Israel and say it is in response to Israeli raids in their coastal territory.

 

 

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