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Ship Carrying Iranian Terrorist Arms - Released

The ship captured on Tuesday on which was found a very large Iranian terrorist weapons shipment has been released from the Ashdod port.
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 11/5/2009, 1:31 PM / Last Update: 11/5/2009, 1:44 PM

Israel news photo

The ship captured on Tuesday and found to be carrying a very large terrorist weapons shipment has been released from the Ashdod port. The shipment of hundreds of tons of rockets and arms from Iran, headed for Hizbullah, was unloaded in Israel over the past two days.

Brig.-Gen. Rani Ben-Yehuda, head of the Israel Navy Staff, briefed reporters on “Operation Four Species” in which the ship was located and captured. A special commando unit boarded the ship on Tuesday night, in stormy weather, after Israeli intelligence tracked it for a number of days.

The IDF noted that the interception was carried out in accordance with international law, and the captain and 11 crew members offered no resistance. They were found to have been unaware of the nature of the cargo they were carrying. Hizbullah, for its part, denied any connection to the arms, and denounced "Israeli piracy."

The ship, Francop, is registered in Antigua, an island in the West Indies. It is now on its way “somewhere in the Mediterranean.”

“We found enough weapons on the ship to keep Hizbullah fighting for at least a month,” Ben-Yehuda said. “It was more than ten times the amount we found several years ago on the Karine-A ship,” he said, referring to the ship that held 83 cases, configurable to float at various distances below the ocean surface, carrying Katyusha rockets, mortars, anti-tank missiles, explosives, anti-tank mines, AK-47 assault rifles and other weapons.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has invited the ambassadors in Israel to come to Ashdod and view the tremendous quantity of weapons sent from Iran to Hizbullah, via Syria.

Emphasizing Iran’s role in equipping and supporting terrorism, Lieberman said, “This is more than a smoking gun - it’s a shooting gun – a gun that shoots in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Gaza and southern Lebanon.”

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu similarly said in response to the ship’s capture, “It’s past time that the international community exert real pressure on Iran to stop this criminal activity and give backing to Israel when it defends itself from terrorists and their supporters.”