Drama off of Israel's shores: An Israeli Navy commando force seized control over a suspicious vessel in the early hours of Wednesday morning, which was found to be carrying weapons.
The ship is believed to have come for Iran, destined for Hezbollah in Lebanon and meant to dock in Syria.
The incident took place some 150 kilometers off the coast, near Cyprus. A fleet of smaller ships approached the vessel, sailing under the Antiguan flag, and boarded it.
The crew members showed no resistance. The ship was found to be carrying at least five containers of ammunition and weapons, under the guise of a civilian delivery.
The cargo included rockets, grenades, mortar shells and missiles. "This could be bigger than Karin-A," a military source said.
The ship at Ashdod Port (Photo: PAR)
After an initial inspection, the ship was lead to the Ashdod Port for additional inspection and a more thorough examination of the cargo it stored.
Part of the Ashdod Port was closed off Wednesday morning following the incident. The IDF stressed that intensive efforts are made on a daily basis to foil the smuggling of weapons, even at sea.
The navy and intelligence monitored the situation a number of days before the takeover. The site of the operation was determined in advance, and it was carried out with the authorization of the highest ranks in Israel.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak said after the incident that the capture of the ship prevented the smuggling of weapons and ammunition to "the northern terror scene".
Barak praised the chief of staff and the navy commander for their success, and said this was "another success against the terror organization's attempts to arm themselves." Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also praised the IDF for its conduct.
The best known case of a weapons ship to be seized by the IDF in the Mediterranean Sea is the Karin-A ship, which the IDF gained control over in January 2002.
Dozens of tons of weapons of all sorts were found on the ship, all on their way from Iran to the Gaza Strip.