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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Egypt blocks Iranian ship from transiting Suez Canal

Egypt is blocking an Iranian ship with arms for Hamas from transiting the Suez Canal (the picture is illustrative).
According to a report received at the Defense Ministry from the Pentagon, the US Navy recently boarded an Iranian vessel that was carrying artillery shells and other weaponry.

"This is a big test for the Egyptians," a senior defense official said. "So far the Egyptians have prevented the ship from crossing the Suez and we hope it will stay that way."

Defense officials said that Iran is trying to supply Hamas with new Grad-model Katyusha rockets and to replace high-grade explosives that were exhausted or destroyed by the IDF during Operation Cast Lead.

"There are two main smuggling routes," one official explained. "Some of the weaponry comes by ground from Somalia, Sudan and then into Egypt and through a tunnel into Gaza, while some comes by boat."

The boats sometimes unload the shipments in the Sinai's Port Said, where it is smuggled into Gaza by land. Other times, the shipments are dropped overboard in waterproof containers and are picked up by Palestinian fishermen or divers.


Defense officials said that, since the conclusion of Operation Cast Lead, large quantities of explosives, machine guns and other weaponry had arrived in the Sinai peninsula, but the Egyptians were taking measures to prevent them from being smuggled into Gaza, including erecting road blocks near Rafah and increasing patrols in the area.
What the Egyptians do now is very visible. Will it last in the long term? I wouldn't bet on it.

And I'm very uncomfortable with the idea of depending on others fighting our battles whatever the term.

By the way, it's not clear to me from this story whether this is the same ship that was boarded by the US navy's USS San Antonio last week. The Post does mention that story. DEBKA has more details about that story here and here. I have not been able to confirm DEBKA's details from other sources.


At 8:23 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

Ssme here, Carl. Who knows what price they will exact for such "help.' Which isn't exactly free.


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