Netanyahu: Solid basis seized weapons were for terrorists

By Jennifer Lipman, March 15, 2011
Benjamin Netanyahu

Benjamin Netanyahu

The weapons on board a ship seized near to the Gaza Strip this morning were “destined for terrorist forces”, Israel’s Prime Minister has said.

Benjamin Netanyahu, speaking hours after the Israeli navy stopped and searched a ship bearing a Liberian flag and redirected it to the port of Ashdod, said he had approved the action because Israel “had a solid basis that onboard the ship was weaponry destined for use against Israel.”

It is understood that the cargo on the “Victoria” ship included dozens of tons of weaponry to be smuggled into Gaza.

The ship, which set sail from Syria, was headed to Egypt. Although it had previously stopped in Turkey, the IDF ruled out Turkish involvement in the plan.

Mr Netanyahu said: “Considerable weaponry – which was destined for terrorist forces in the heart of Gaza – was found on board the vessel.

“The operation was carried out at sea in accordance with all international rules.”

He added: “The weaponry originated in Iran, which is trying to arm the Gaza Strip."

According to the IDF, the interception was “part of the Navy’s routine activity to maintain security and prevent arms smuggling”.

Last updated: 12:08pm, March 16 2011