Hezbollah on Thursday denied any and all connections to the cargo ship Francop, which was seized Wednesday by Israel Navy commandos. Tons of weapons and ammunition were found hidden among the civilian cargo on the ship.
In a statement issued by the Lebanese organization, Hezbollah denied any link to "the weapons that the Zionist enemy claims it confiscated from the ship." In addition, the terrorist organization condemned "the Israeli pirates operating in international waters."
On Thursday morning, IDF forces finished unloading the weapons from the Francop freight ship. The ship and its 11 crew members were released and left Ashdod Port after it was established that they had no connection whatsoever to the weapons found on board.
The weapons and ammunition found on ship were to be transferred to warehouses in the IDF's ammunition center.
Many Arab newspapers, including Lebanese newspapers, also adopted the stance that Israel's actions at sea amounts to piracy, looting, and disrespecting international trade at sea.
The Lebanese newspaper al-Akhbar, which is aligned with Hezbollah, even connected between the Israeli naval operation and the UN's discussion of the Goldstone Report.
"One cannot shake the impression put forth by many analysts that there is a clear connection between the operation and the Goldstone Report," wrote the newspaper, "be it in terms of the timing, on one hand, or in terms of the Israeli line of defense against the report, on the other hand."
Diminishing importance of freight
The newspaper made a bid to diminish the importance of the weapons cargo seized on Wednesday: "Truthfully, a sense of frustration was felt in Israel yesterday regarding the type of weapons seized after the media published that it was 'quality' weaponry that creates an imbalance in the region. However, it turned out that it was conventional weapons."
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem refrained from mentioning Israel by name Wednesday evening when he said, "There are professional pirates that are damaging trade between Syria and Iran." Moallem spoke at a joint press conference in Tehran with his Iranian counterpart, Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki.
"This ship did not carry Iranian arms to Syria, but goods. There was no military equipment to produce weapons in Syria on board," Moallem said.
Moallem made these statements as Israel was still displaying to the world the vast weapons found on the ship, hidden in dozens of containers disguised as civilian cargo. "The quantity of weapons seized is 10 times or more than the quantity of weapons on the Karin-A," said Israel Navy Chief Brig. Gen. Rani Ben-Yehuda, who spoke at Ashdod Port, where the ship was anchored following the commando take over.