Israeli Navy Seizes Arms Smuggler with ASCMs on board

The Israeli Navy has interdicted an arms smuggling vessel 200 miles off their coast. The arms are believed to have been en route Hamas in the Gaza strip, and there is speculation that the weapons, at least some of which were made in Iran, were delivered to Syria for transhipment by the Iranian Naval vessels that recently transited the Suez Canal.

"Victoria" Cargo Ship Carrying WeaponryInterestingly, among the arms found on board were Chinese designed, Iranian made C-704 anti-ship cruise missiles.

This is a smaller weapon than a harpoon. The Chinese make a series of anti-ship weapons, quoting, “While TL-10 series is specifically designed to engage boats displacing 500 tons or less, TL-6 series is specifically designed to engage larger naval vessel with displacement up to 1,000 tons. Along with C-704 that covers ships from 1,000 tons to 3,000 tons, and larger anti ship missiles such as C-802 that covers large ships, China has developed a complete anti ship cruise missile families that covers every displacement class. Western sources have claimed that the Iranian Nasr anti-ship missile is based on TL-6.”

(Israeli Defense Forces Photo)


13 thoughts on “Israeli Navy Seizes Arms Smuggler with ASCMs on board

  1. So, the Israelis boarded and seized an unarmed merchant vessel in International Waters? I thought to prove smuggling there had to be some territorial boundary breached.

    Even in Vietnam if vessels loaded with arms remained outside the territorial limits they had the right of passage. Although the missiles could be seen on deck, the U. S. did not board and seize Soviet ships bound for Cuba nor did the Soviet Navy board and seize U. S. vessels loaded with rockets for Turkey.

  2. there apparently was an intl organization report on this ship earlier in her voyage and IF the port state allows, ships under their flag can be boarded in intl waters. USCG does it all the time.

  3. It appears the boarding was planned well in advance,

    Another link,

    “The interception occurred about 200 miles (320 kilometers) off Israel’s Mediterranean coast and Israeli troops met no resistance. The vessel was being hauled back to the Israeli port of Ashdod, according to the military. It said the discovery was made during a routine navy activity to prevent arms smuggling.

    Although the ship was intercepted outside of Israel’s territorial waters, maritime law entitles Israel to search any merchant vessel it has reason to believe is carrying contraband to support Hamas’ armed conflict with Israel, said retired Israeli Lt. Col. Benjamin David, an international law expert.

    Even without prior evidence, if the ship’s captain gave permission for the Israeli navy to board, the action is legal, David added.”

    Evidently, the Israelis did not get permission. If they had they would have said so. If they were allowed to invade the sovereign territories of South American nations and kidnap people suspected to be former NAZIs, I suppose this is a small thing.

    What would the U. S. do if this was done 200 miles off the coast of New York? Just what maritime law only allows Israel to do this? How could the merchant captain say no to a group of armed boarders?

    The Israelis have never apologized or compensated the United States or the families of the victims for the USS Liberty.

  4. Using the example of US actions off Vietnam is not relevent. Israel seized these weapons because they had reason to believe that these weapons were intended to be used against Israeli citizens and Israeli territory. If I were Israeli I would expect my country to do the same. I would certainly expect the US government to do the same if faced with a similar situation.

  5. “Using the example of US actions off Vietnam is not relevent.”

    Not relevant? Attempts to smuggle arms into Vietnam to support and supply the insurgent forces (NLF) for the DRV is very much relevant.

    “Israel seized these weapons because they had reason to believe that these weapons were intended to be used against Israeli citizens and Israeli territory. If I were Israeli I would expect my country to do the same. I would certainly expect the US government to do the same if faced with a similar situation.”

    Then why is it the U. S. does not seize ships in international waters on the same belief. Reason to believe is not a sufficient excuse to extend illegal boardings to the entire world. What’s next boarding and seizing merchant vessels at Gibraltar?

    I may go with the declared blockade idea if the seizure had been within the zone the Isrealis declared off Gaza. However, this latest one was hundreds of miles away from the declared zone.

    “3. A blockade may be imposed at sea, including in international waters, so long as it does not bar access to the ports and coasts of neutral states.”

    Since the states of the region and ship registry are “neutrals” the Israelis are in violation of the rules they seem to be making up to fit the situation. To me, this action is just another form of terrorism by a state that has in its inventory submarine launched cruise missiles with nuclear warheads.

    If the Israeli government wants to blockade their own citizens in Gaza, then that is their national provocative. But to commit breaches of international solely on the basis of their own fluctuating rules and rationalizations is terrorism and should be treated as any other terrorist state, at most, or piratical at the least.

  6. Although a relatively small load, I remain suspicious. The Israelis developed the 120mm mortar round and from the photo all the cases, which are far older than the projectiles, are in English. I would think that any thing from Iran would be in Persian. Also note the conveniently laid mortar tube in front of the 120 mm mortar rounds.

    When there was a cache of arms found in other parts of the world, say Iraq, the U. S. went to great lengths to show the terrorist nature of them even if they were from normal military stocks.

    The seizure is still troubling because of where it took place.

    • The wording in the video was that they had “requested the Captain to stop” and the Captain “cooperated fully.” They said they had contacted Liberia (the flag state), Germany (the owner), and France (the operator). Sounds like they may have dotted their “i”s and crossed their “t”s.

      I didn’t see any mortar tube, just the shipping container, and they did not claim there were any mortars in the shipment. 120 mm mortars have been made by the USSR since before WWII and are also made by France, Brazil, Sweden, Finland, the US and probably some other places. Apparently it is an “international standard.” Markings in English makes them relatively easy to export since it is widely understood.

      Almost certainly the missiles and their control systems did not come from Israel. I think if this was faked we would have heard some objection from the Liberia, Germany, or France.

  7. Chuck,

    The article was from IDF press release. I’d like to see other sources. I even looked at Al Jazeera and they passed on what the IDF processed. Although the IDF may have “contacted” there is no notation of an affirmative response. The initial IDF news report makes no mention Victoria’s captain did give permission freely to board. It appears the IDF boarded then got permission.

    The “tube” I wrote of was the packing tube. I threw thousands of the same type over the side for the 81mm. In addition, the stenciling on the packing crates and mortar rounds appear strangely new. The crates show some rough handling but there are no marks in the stenciling. The IDF put up more photos on the link you gave. This is not to say that weapons were not shipped, but it is not a far stretch for the IDF to cook the books. In similar weapons displays in Vietnam it was not uncommon to collect captures to make a better photo and sense the IMI makes the same rounds they would be available for better propaganda purposes and propaganda is what this is all about.

    Here is the wikipedia article on the 120mm mortar. I remember the “Four-Duce” as it was called.

    As one article noted, we may never know if Israel’s claims are true unless there is another wikileaks.

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