Truth be told, I had expected Prime Minister Netanyahu to focus on Iran in his AIPAC talk yesterday. I had been planning to use his speech as a kick-off point for a discussion about Iran. Instead, yesterday, I went in various other directions. And today, there is a different, decidedly more ominous kick-off point for focus on Iran.
I am going to make this brief because, not knowing how broadly this information will be broadcast outside of Israel, I want this out:
The information has surfaced that early this morning Israeli naval commandos from the elite unit Shayetet 13 seized a ship in the Red Sea that was carrying dozens of advanced Iranian rockets intended for delivery to terrorists in Gaza.
The cargo ship, the Klos C, was sailing under a Panamanian flag. Its 17-man crew did not resist when their ship – which is now being brought to Eilat – was boarded in international waters. The crew was comprised of several nationalities (none Iranian) who were apparently oblivious to the nature of the cargo the ship was carrying.
According to Israeli military spokesman Lt.-Col. Peter Lerner, dozens of M302 rockets – hidden behind bags of cement that were labeled in English “Made in Iran” – were found on-board. They would have had the capacity to strike deep into Israel.
The blood runs cold when one considers what might have happened, had the ship not have been intercepted. All credit is due the IDF, which carried out what Lerner referred to as a “complex, covert operation.” It met with success because of a “combination of in-depth intelligence and enhanced operational capabilities.”
IDF Chief of Staff, Lieutenant General Benny Gantz, who supervised the operation, gave the order to Major General Ram Rothberg, head of the Israeli navy, to seize the ship.
If the IDF tracking of the weapon cache was “complex,” it is because the route of the rockets covered a great deal of ground: The rockets were flown from Syria – where they had been assembled according to Iranian technology – to Iran, where they were loaded on the ship. From there they were went first to Iraq (why, is not clear) and when intercepted were headed towards Sudan, which was still 1,500 miles away. It is anticipated that, had they reached Sudan, the rockets would have been smuggled overland through Egypt to Gaza. This route from Sudan to Gaza is hardly a new one.
Brigadier General Moti Almoz, spokesman for the Israeli Navy,made it clear at a special press conference today: “Iran was behind the shipment.”
Netanyahu, who is currently in LA, made a brief, clear statement following the release of this information (emphasis added):
“As it conducts talks with [world] powers, as Iran smiles and utters pleasantries, the same Iran is sending lethal weapons to terror organizations…via an intricate network of clandestine global operations…in order to hurt innocent civilians.”
“This is the real Iran and this country must not be allowed to have nuclear weapons. We will continue to do whatever is necessary to protect Israeli citizens.”
Take the time to see this brief video of Netanyahu in a similar expression of concern: it is in his tone of voice that the seriousness and import of the issue are conveyed;
I will return in another posting with more on Iran, including information on how Obama and other heads of state who are “negotiating” with Iran respond to this. I want to see how they reconcile this with their image of a new, more “moderate” Iran.