Intercept at Sea, Israeli Style

I’ve seem several reports of the Israeli seizure of a Panamanian flag vessel, the KLOS-C, reportedly transporting long range rockets and perhaps other weapons being shipped by Iran to terrorists in Gaza. But NavyRecognition’s is the first report I’ve seen that actually showed the seizure. They also the show the reported route of the weapons.

The intercept point looks to be a bit over 700 miles from the nearest Israeli port. Apparently the crew of the Panamanian ship is claiming they had no idea what they were carrying.

It is interesting to see the forces the Israeli Navy used to make this seizure. They did not scrimp. They apparently made the boarding using three RHIBs and they had at least two surface combatants on scene, a Sa’ar 5 corvette (1,275 tons full load, larger than a 210, but smaller than a 270) and a missile boat, which appears to be a Sa’ar 4.5 (488 tons full load, about a third larger than an FRC). From the video it is obvious they had an aircraft on scene, possibly a helicopter from the Sa’ar 5. It may have been overkill in this case but both of the two Israeli vessels carried anti-ship missiles and a CIWS. The Sa’ar 5 corvette is also equipped with short range AAW missiles, and the missile boat has a 76 mm.

File:Three Sa'ar 5 Class Missile Corvettes Going For a Cruise.jpg

 

Photo: Israeli Sa’ar 5  corvettes. Israeli Defense Forces photo

File:Saar45nirit011.jpg

 

Photo: Sa’ar 4.5 missile boat, Israeli Defense Force photo

14 thoughts on “Intercept at Sea, Israeli Style

    • Actually, Bill, this op was conducted pretty darn close to the coast of Somalia (vs. how far from Isreal).

      I’d say there is a slight difference in a soverign nation, using intel, intercepting contraband in a self-defense/law-enforcement op, than non-governmental armed kidnappers holding people and assets for ransom. Otherwise, using your assertion, the CG could be accused of being pirates conducting interdiction ops in some areas of the Pacific and Carribean…

      The key piece of information we haven’t heard yet (at least I haven’t), is what was the destination port(s) for this ship and the containers carrying weapons? If Egypt’s east coast was on the itinerary, the Isrealis may have been forced to conduct this op where they did.

      • The Coast Guard also gets permissions to board vessels unless stateless. This vessel had a Panamanian registry. The other link to the incident cites, “IDF special naval forces boarded the vessel, in accordance with international law, and carried out a preliminary inspection of the cargo.” Just what “international law” is cited. What does inspection mean when the purpose is a seizure in international waters? Israel has little regard for international law and dismisses whenever it chooses. The USS Liberty of 1968 is one example.

        Eritrea has a 12nm territorial limit.

      • All of your points are still a far, far cry from piracy, Bill. In fact they imply the Israelis followed all proper international laws and procedure.

        This link ( http://www.yalibnan.com/2014/03/05/israel-seized-gaza-bound-rocket-shipment-from-iran/ ) implies the ship was probably headed to the Port of Sudan, which, if true, means the Isrealis couldn’t wait to act any longer.

        And this story ( http://www.foxnews.com/world/2014/03/05/israeli-naval-raid-nabs-gaza-bound-arms-from-iran/ ) says the op took place in “international waters,” though it doesn’t provide any coordinates.

        And according to this story ( http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/178178#.Uxqo36N5mK0 ), the US was deeply involved in the intelligence end of things and offerred to seize the ship for them…  Still think THAT would be piracy?  

  1. If there a clear violation of international law, then why did the U. S. “offer” to seize the vessel but allowed the Israelis? There were ample opportunities and naval vessels in the Persian Gulf.

    Probable and maybe are not legal justifications for a high seas capture. I still have seen nothing where Panama gave the Israelis to board and seize the vessel. Piracy? Could be considered that in the international court. Intelligence operations aside, what gives a nation the right to seize the vessel of another nation on a guess and impatience? Does the Coast Guard do this?

    In the late 1960s the world beat up on the U. S. for going into Cambodia for the very same reasons. Why does Israel get a pass?

    • Let’s compare a more apples-to-apples case: I don’t remember anyone (other than the eastern block) beating up on the US for the quarantine (blockade) of Cuba during the missile crisis?

      The US intercepted foreign-flagged shipping, without permission from the country of registration, and to the point of threatening gunfire and sinking them I might add, if they did not heave-to and stay so many miles from Cuba.

      The USSR sent rockets which threatened 1/3 of CONUS in a cold (non-shooting) war. The Iranians are sending Syrian rockets which threaten most of Israeli territory in a hot, shooting war with the Palestinians.

      The Israelis had good intel and conducted a successful, well-executed op where no one was hurt and collected the evidence of the violation of international law. I’m confused why you think the Israelis were so wrong? Over an operational detail which is never/rarely discussed in the press? When is the last time you heard a national-level reporter talk about the CG getting country-of-registry approval before boarding a vessel? (Never, right…) All we here is that, “the CG seized X number of tons of cocaine today.”

      On another assertion you made earlier: the Red Sea is 220 miles wide at it’s widest point (which is very near or at where this op took place), and it has lots of reef and shallows extending from it’s edges a considerable distance towards the centeal trench. (wikipedia) So, it’s a pretty fair bet this vessel was traveling outside Eritrea’s and Saudi Arabia’s 12-mile limits. Again, an operational detail which is never reported, unless there’s a claim of violation by the territorial nation.

  2. While I am not an international law scholar, let me point out a few things I am pretty sure of.

    Israel has declared a blockade of Gaza-yes it is an act of war.

    There is no specific limit as to how close or far away the blockading nation can enforce the blockade.

    In the Israeli’s view they were enforcing the blockade.

    Had Israel intercepted this ship and found nothing, Panama might have objected, but they are not going to do that now, since it is obvious that the ship was carrying potentially dangerous cargo the crew was not aware of. Transporting these rockets in containers was probably against Panamanian law and probably against the law in every other port it visited with them on board.

    My understanding is that in order to be a violation of international law, at least one nation has to object and feel they have been wronged, but so far I don’t think anyone, including Iran, has objected. If no objection, no violation.

  3. Good video but also some surprises. One scene showed seven RHIBs, that is more than I would have thought they could support on the two vessels we see in the video. Also the scene I referred to appears staged. Maybe they are just trying to get good press back home, but it does not look right.

    • I think only the on-board parts of that video plus the parts which show the KLOS-C are from this op. I saw the same things and was a little doubtful. On review, I think the media cut in file footage of small boat training to make the op look more sensational with all those small boats. The press, where sales outweighs accuracy…

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