US-Egyptian Red Sea hunt for Iranian ship carrying 60 tons of arms for Hamas
Straight from the Debka File: “US and Egyptian warships were scouring the Gulf of Aden and Red Sea Tuesday, Jan. 20 to waylay an Iranian freighter carrying scores of heavy rockets for delivery to Hamas. DEBKAfile‘s exclusive sources report they were acting on intelligence that a ship loaded with an estimated 60 tons of arms to replenish Hamas’ depleted war stocks had set out from the Iranian Persian Gulf port of Bandar Abbas on Jan. 17.
Our sources reveal that the arms-smuggling vessel started its voyage as the Iran-Hedayat and changed its name in mid sea to Famagustus registered to Panama. The captain was ordered by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards to unload its cargo at a smugglers cove on the southeastern coast of Sinai opposite the Gulf of Suez, to be picked up by armed Bedouin gangs and moved to El Arish in northern Sinai. From there the contraband rockets were to be slipped gradually into the Gaza Strip.
The cargo consists of 50 Fajr rockets whose range is 50-75 km, scores of heavy Grad rockets, new, improved launchers whose angle of fire can be precisely adjusted, tons of high-quality explosives, submachine guns, rifles and pistols and armor-piercing missiles and shells (of types used successfully by Hizballah against Israeli tanks in 2006).
The shipment, the largest Tehran has ever consigned to the Palestinian Hamas in Gaza, includes also a large number of anti-personnel and anti-vehicle mines, equipment for assembling roadside bombs and advanced communications and night vision gear.
(The Palestinian Karin-A arms smuggling ship intercepted by Israel naval commandoes seven years ago carried 50 tons of arms for Fatah).
The Iranian ship aroused suspicions when Western spy satellites and surveillance stations spotted its change of registration after entering the Sea of Oman. Closer observation identified the cargo as a huge arms shipment.”