Israeli forces seize CMA CGM vessel
|The Victoria was intercepted on Tuesday and found to be carrying 50 tons of weaponry bound for the Gaza Strip.|
A CMA CGM chartered containership was intercepted by the Israeli navy Tuesday in the Mediterranean after Israel's government suspected the ship contained a shipment of arms headed for militants in the Gaza Strip, international news outlets reported.
Israeli commandos found weapons aboard the ship, weapons the government said were targeted for use against Israel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu alleged that Iran was behind the shipment, according to a CNN report.
The containership Victoria is owned by a German ship owner and flagged in Liberia, according to reports. It was en route from Mersin in Turkey to Alexandria, Egypt when the seizure occurred about 200 miles from the Israeli Coast. The ship also called the Syrian port of Lattakia.
The Israel Defense Force said the Victoria carried as many as 50 tons of weapons, including missiles with far longer range and the ability to operate automatically, posing a threat to anyone in their vicinity These included C-704 anti-ship missiles equipped with radars and a range of 35 kilometers.
'These are strategic weapons. If Hamas gets its hands on them they would seriously damage strategic infrastructure at sea and at shore,' said Israel Navy Chief Brig. Gen. Rani Ben-Yehuda, who said they are dangerous not just to Navy ships but also to civilian vessels usually arriving at the Ashdod Harbor.
“Because the missiles can be programmed to work automatically, they pose a threat to any additional targets within their range. They are easier to control and mobilize than previous missiles,” he explained.
In a statement, the French container line said, 'the ship’s manifests do not show any cargo in contravention with international regulations, and we do not have any more information at this stage.'
Israel Defense Forces said Turkey had no connection to the shipment in question. A Tradewinds report Wednesday said the ship was to be released soon.
The seizure of the ship follows last week’s call by the group United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) to “cease all business activities in Iran” as part of its campaign to prevent the Iran from possessing nuclear weapons.
UANI President Mark D. Wallace, said the seizure of the Victoria “shows exactly why CMA CGM should end its business in Iran immediately. This incident follows two other recent seizures of CMA CGM vessels headed to or from Iran in apparent violation of UN Security Council Resolutions. CMA CGM's dealings in Iran are clearly helping prop up the regime's dictatorship and arming terrorists worldwide, and they should end now.”