Israeli navy intercepts arms-laden ship en-route
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Last Updated: Tuesday, March 15, 2011, 19:09
Jerusalem: The Israeli navy on Tuesday intercepted an Egypt-bound ship, suspected of carrying weapons for Hamas fighters in Gaza, an official spokesperson said.

The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) spokesperson said the ship 'Victoria' originated from the Lattakia port in Syria and sailed to Mersin, Turkey. It was seized in the Mediterranean Sea while on its way to El-Arish port in Egypt.

Elite troops from the Shayetet 13 Naval Commando unit took control over the vessel, which was carrying "various weaponry", without any struggle when it was around 200 nautical miles off Israel's coast and towed it to the Israeli port in Ashdod.

"The operation was approved as necessary in accordance with the government directives in light of Chief of the General Staff Lt Gen Benny Gantz's recommendations," the IDF said.

"The IDF and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs alerted German authorities about the interception of the Victoria due to the German ownership of the ship."

The Israeli army said that the contents of the ship will be thoroughly examined and its crew will be taken in for questioning.

Although the ship had set sail from Turkey, it bore a Liberian flag.

Turkey is not responsible for the seized ship "in any aspect," the IDF said.

Earlier, the Israeli Navy had seized the Karine A, a vessel carrying 50 tonnes of missiles, mortars, rifles and ammunition headed for Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip in 2003.


First Published: Tuesday, March 15, 2011, 19:09

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