This afternoon, the IDF announced that the Victoria, a German owned, French operated and Liberian flagged vessel, was apprehended 200 miles off the Israeli coast by the IDF Navy. It was carrying arms from the port of Latakia in Syria to Alexandria in Egypt via Turkey. The IDF Navy fighters, in an operation reminiscent of earlier ship seizures, met with no resistance. The assumption is that the arms were intended for the Hamas in Gaza and would reach them via the smuggling tunnels between Egypt and the Gaza Strip.
The ship and crew have been towed to an Israeli port for continued questioning and inspection. 3 crates of arms were found on the deck and the inspection of the remaining hundreds of crates in the ship's cargo is expected to reveal that this was merely the tip of the iceberg.
Brigadier General Avi Bnayahu, the IDF spokesperson, said to Israel Army Radio "apparently we will find more evidence of the Iran, Syria, Hezbollah axis". The official announcement claimed that there was no Turkish involvement in the shipment, provoking speculation that Israel was cautious not to further inflame its troubled relations with the AKP Islamic Party government of Turkey.
The IDF pledged to continue its intelligence and operational activity to protect Israeli security and prevent an arms injection that would empower terror in the Gaza Strip and Lebanon.
The MInistry of Foreign Affairs announced: This attempt at smuggling large amounts of weaponry aboard the Victoria provides additional proof of Israel’s imperative need to examine all goods entering the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. Israel cannot allow weapons and military equipment to reach the hands of terrorists, who will use them against its civilian population.