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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Israel's war with Iran

Yaakov Katz explains what the IDF meant when they told us on Tuesday that the quality of the weapons on the Victoria was of deep concern.
After contacting the captain of the ship by radio, the commandos climbed aboard and, encountering no resistance, began a brief search of the cargo. They went to the “suspicious” containers, the ones that were loaded at the Syrian port of Latakia and were slated to be unloaded at the Egyptian port of Alexandria, according to the cargo manifest.

The commandos found the containers fitted with heavy locks, unusual for shipments of lentils and cotton. Behind a row of sacks, they found what they were looking for: crates of mortar shells, and then the real prize – the C-704 anti-ship missiles [pictured].

The seizure of the Victoria was not impressive for the quantity of arms found – the Francop cargo ship captured by Israel in late 2009 was carrying 10 times more weaponry – but for the quality.

The C-704 is an anti-ship missile made in China and used by Iran, which calls it the Nasr. Like surface-to-air missiles, the C-704 is the type of weapon that Israel fears could shift the balance of power in the region and undermine its operational freedom.

But while the discovery is impressive and was the result of major intelligence and operational efforts, it is just another chapter in the larger covert war that Israel is waging against Iran and its terror proxies throughout the Middle East, and joins a long list of similar special operations that have taken place in recent years.

The battle against Iranian arms shipments to Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas is extremely complicated and involves unprecedented coordination between Israel and its allies, primarily the United States.

Israel boards dozens of ships annually, and hundreds more are questioned by radio at sea. In the case of the Victoria, Israel had intelligence that the ship might be carrying weaponry, but there is never certainty until the ship is boarded and the weapons are found. One senior official described the mood in the navy command center as being so tense that a knife could have cut through the air.

For Iran and Hamas, the seizure of the Victoria is a major blow. But it will not stop Iran from trying other ways to get advanced weaponry to its proxies, such as Hamas and Hezbollah. In many cases, Iran has succeeded.

In 2009, during Operation Cast Lead, Hamas did not have rockets that could hit Tel Aviv. Today it does.
Read the whole thing.

The C-704 is also known as a Silkworm missile. A similar missile - the C-802 - hit and severely damaged an Israeli submarine enforcing a blockade on Lebanon during the Second Lebanon War in 2006. A the time, the Iranians had to operate the missiles. But Hamas has apparently learned how to do so itself.

With the C-704, Hamas would be able to attack Israeli vessels trying to prevent weapons ships from reaching Gaza. That's why the IDF regarded it as a game changer.

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At 2:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

severely damaged an Israeli submarine

It was not a submarine. It was a corvette. Even your 2006 article says so. Correction required.

Humorously, Blogger's verification word for this comment is "unship". How do they do that?!?!


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