Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Hamas denies Israel claims of Iran weapons shipment

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Israel claimed that it intercepted a ship in the Red Sea on Wednesday carrying Iranian "advanced weaponry" bound for Palestinian militants in Gaza, the military said.

Hamas leaders denied the accusations, pointing out that Gaza is under a complete naval blockade by Israel that would make any shipment of arms into the besieged coastal enclave impossible.

Gaza Ministry of Interior spokesman Islam Shahwan said in a statement that Israeli claims were a "dangerous move" to justify Israel's seven-year long blockade.

Shahwan urged journalists to avoid "being tricked by the Israeli narrative about capturing a ship carrying weapons to Gaza," adding that "the sea is completely besieged and closed by the Israeli navy, and any ship which sails will be obstructed."

Israel, which has long accused Iran and Syria of providing military aid to Lebanon's Hezbollah and Palestinian militant groups, said the ship was carrying "advanced weaponry," including rockets "capable of striking anywhere in Israel." more

Hamas: Egypt no longer impartial in Palestinian reconciliation following ban

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Egypt is no longer a neutral party in resolving the political split between Hamas and Fatah, an Hamas official said Wednesday.

Marwan Abu Ras, a Palestinian lawmaker affiliated to Hamas, told Ma'an that "we won't be reassured that Egypt can play an impartial role in reconciliation while Egypt antagonizes one side of the dispute."

The Hamas official condemned a recent decision by an Egyptian court to ban the activities of Hamas in the country and seize the group's assets.

"The Egyptian judge who made the decision did not bring a single evidence incriminating Hamas. Thus, the movement considers the Egyptian decision a pure political decision rather than a judicial decision, and that decision serves the Israeli occupation." more

Israel seizes ship it claims has missiles heading from Iran to Gaza

From Haaretz

Israeli naval forces on Wednesday intercepted a shipment of medium-range missiles near Sudan that were headed for the Gaza Strip.

Special forces from the Shayetet 13 (Flotilla 13) unit overpowered the cargo vessel named the KLOS C – which is registered in Panama – in the early morning hours. A search aboard the vessel uncovered dozens of 302mm rockets, which are manufactured in Syria and were fired into Israel by Hezbollah during the 2006 Second Lebanon War. The rockets have a range of about 100 kilometers.

"We have conclusive evidence that there were rockets on board the ship, and we have proof and can say with certainty that Iran is behind this operation," a senior Israel Defense Forces officer said.

The officer said that the rockets originated in Syria, were loaded onto airplanes at the Damascus airport from which they were transported to Iran. There they were boarded onto the cargo ship, which set sail about 10 days ago en route to a port in Sudan.

The IDF tracked the ship, saying it sailed north toward Iraq instead of heading directly toward the African country. The army believes that, in Iraq, the rockets were covered with cement bags in an attempt to disguise the shipment after which the vessel continued to sail toward Sudan.

The Israeli raid occurred about a day before the ship was set to dock in Sudan. more