The Israeli navy today seized a ship that was apparently smuggling weapons destined for Hamas in the Gaza Strip. The Israel Defense Forces Spokesman Unit said that the ship “Victoria” originated from the Lattakia port in Syria and sailed to Mersin, Turkey. It was seized while on its way from Turkey destined for the El-Arish port in Egypt.
Elite troops from the Shayetet 13 naval commando unit took control of the ship without a struggle when it was around 200 nautical miles off Israel’s coast and towed it to the port in Ashdod. According to the IDF Spokesman Unit, the ship was carrying “tons” of concealed weapons destined for “the use of terror organizations operating in the Gaza Strip.”
The IDF said that once the ship is anchored in Ashdod, its contents 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.
A joint statement from the IDF and Foreign Ministry said that German officials have been alerted of the ship’s seizure, as the ship belonged to a German company. Liberian officials have also been alerted due to the Liberian flag on the ship. The operating company of the ship was from France, and thus French officials were also made aware of the situation.
This is not the first time that Israel has seized a ship carrying concealed weapons. The most famous incident was in 2003, when the Israeli military seized the Karine A, a vessel with 50 tons of missiles, mortars, rifles and ammunition headed for Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip.