Israel seizes 'Gaza-bound weapons'

Hamas denies Israeli claim that ship boarded in the Mediterranean was carrying cargo of Iranian arms to Gaza.

    An image released by the Israeli military showing weapons it says were seized aboard a Gaza-bound cargo vessel

    Israel's navy says it has boarded an Egypt-bound ship suspected of carrying Iranian weapons to fighters in the Gaza Strip.

    In a statement the Israeli military said it intercepted a Liberian-flagged vessel called Victoria some 200 nautical miles off the Israeli coast in the Mediterranean Sea on Tuesday.

    "According to assessments, the various weaponry on-board the vessel was intended for the use of terror organisations operating in the Gaza Strip," it said, but did not describe the type of arms found on-board.

    Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, said in a statement that he had approved the operation and claimed that the weapons came from Iran.

    "We had a solid basis that onboard the ship was weaponry destined for use against Israel. Considerable weaponry, which was destined for terrorist forces in the heart of Gaza, was found onboard the vessel," he said.

    "The operation was carried out at sea in accordance with all international rules. The weaponry originated in Iran, which is trying to arm the Gaza Strip."

    However a Hamas spokesperson denied that the ship's contents were intended for Palestinian fighters, describing the Israeli statement as propaganda designed to damage the reputation of Hamas in the international community.

    An Iranian foreign ministry spokesman, Ramin Mehmanparast, said: "Don't trust Israeli media news. There is no such thing. We do not confirm it in any way."

    Israel said the boat was on its way from a port in Turkey to Alexandria in Egypt, but that "Turkey is not tied to the incident in any way".

    The vessel had previously visited the Syrian port of Latakia, the Israeli military said. 

    It added that the crew, which put up no resistance when confronted by Israeli forces, would be transferred to an Israeli port for questioning and further inspection.

    Israel has previously accused Hamas of shipping arms through Egypt.

    The ship is said to be German-owned and operated by a French shipping company.

    Last May, Israel sparked an international outcry when naval commandos seized a Turkish ship that was part of a flotilla trying to break the Gaza blockade, killing nine people on board.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


    The woman who cleans up after 'lonely deaths' in Japan

    The woman who cleans up after 'lonely deaths' in Japan

    When somebody dies lonely and alone, Miyu Kojima steps in to clean their home and organise the mementos of their life.

    Putin and the 'triumph of Christianity' in Russia

    Putin and the 'triumph of Christianity' in Russia

    The rise of the Orthodox Church in Russia appears unstoppable, write filmmakers Glen Ellis and Viktoryia Kolchyna who went to investigate the close ties between the church and Putin.

    The chill effect: Is India's media running scared?

    The chill effect: Is India's media running scared?

    Much of India's media spurns a scoop about the son of PM Modi's right-hand man. Plus, NFL as platform for race politics.