Reporters waiting to enter
Photo: Yoav Zitun
'Victoria' ship in Ashdod Port
Photo: AP
Weapons seized on ship
Photo: IDF Spokesperson's Unit

Foreign press not interested in arms vessel

Army's PR efforts fail to impress; foreign reporters leave Ashdod Port furious after being held up for more than an hour at security check post

The report about the "Victoria" arms vessel seized near Israel's coast Tuesday received little media coverage in the backdrop of the Japan earthquake disaster. IDF soldiers may have been lauded for preventing weapons from reaching terror groups, but the army's PR efforts failed to impress foreign media elements.


The IDF invited members of the foreign press to get a close look at the weapons seized on the ship. Foreign reporters left the Ashdod Port outraged after being held up for over an hour at a security check post.


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz arrived at the port to review the weapons.


Yehia Kassem, a reporter for Alhurra TV told Ynet, "I don't understand why we're being help up. We won't manage to send materials in time. Those who stayed are left feeling soured. I don’t understand why they didn't prioritize foreign press which needs to show the pictures to the world."


A Spanish reporter who left the scene was furious. "This is a disgrace. It's a shot in the foot. What did they bring here us for? To sit around or to see weapons intended for Hamas?"


In total, some 30 reporters and photographers, including German, Spanish and Arab teams, left the site. Soldiers handed out sandwiches and water to the remaining crews.  


According to the Navy, soldiers who searched the ship found numerous 60 and 120-millimeter mortar shells, as well as two to four Chinese-made C-704 anti-ship missiles with a 35-kilometer range. Had they reached Gaza, the missiles would have threatened Israeli sea-based strategic installations and navy vessels, Deputy Navy Commander Rear Admiral Rani Ben-Yehuda said.


Ben-Yehuda also presented a Farsi-language manual for the missiles found among the vessel's cargo, which apparently links Iran to the arms smuggling attempt.


The Navy official said the army suspects two Iranian ships which docked in Syria's Latakia port two weeks ago were connected to the smuggling attempt. "The containers were loaded in Latakia after the (Iranian) vessels were there," he said, adding that the ship's crew did not know it was carrying weapons.



פרסום ראשון: 03.16.11, 14:32
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