JINSA Report #:1,071
The Middle East is in political and military turmoil from Bahrain to Tunisia - some of which may one day benefit Israel, some of which will not. Hamas is firing again from Gaza. The Palestinian Authority continues to spew Jew-hatred through its official organs and feign horror at the inevitable result. The UN is screening an anti-Israel movie (popcorn optional) for the General Assembly while Iran ascends to the UN Committee on the Status of Women and Western European countries on the Security Council throw Israel to the dogs assuming the United States will veto their folly. The United States does, because it declined to expend the necessary effort to gather the votes to defeat the resolution and couldn't prevail upon Abu Mazen (who relies on the United States for money and military training for this Praetorian Guard) to withdraw it. Israel can't even take the time to mourn its latest dead - three children and their parents gruesomely murdered in their own home on the Sabbath - because it might lose track of the two Iranian naval ships that passed through the Suez Canal under the eyes of the new Egyptian junta.
Remember those? Israel did. Israel had to.
American and Israeli intelligence assets kept the Iranian Alvand frigate and Kharg supply and replenishment ship in their sights after Egypt gave them a clean bill and permitted them to pass through the Canal. The ships went to Latakia, Syria where, apparently, they offloaded a shipment of weapons. The second ship, a German-owned-Liberian-flagged freighter named Victoria, stopped in Latakia to pick up the weapons and then went to the port in Mersin, Turkey, where it stayed for a few days for no apparent purpose (except to give people time to forget about the Iranian ships and focus their attention elsewhere?). Then the ship left Turkey and headed for Egypt, where the cargo could have gone to Gaza through the smuggling tunnels.
The Israel Navy tracked the ship, boarded it and had it dock in Israel. There was no resistance from the crew, who apparently were unaware of the cargo, as was the German owner of the ship. The Turkish government appears to have had nothing to do with anything. But someone did.
Early word is that the ship contained "tons" of weapons, possibly including Chinese C-802 anti-ship missiles - the ones Hezbollah used during the 2006 war to disable an Israeli ship and kill four Israeli sailors. Acquisition of the C-802 missile, according to Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, "Would have impaired the Israel Navy's freedom of operations in the Mediterranean Sea." Given recent Israeli gas finds in the Mediterranean and the fact that most of Israel's imports and exports are seaborne and that 80% of Israel's population lives in the coastal plain, the ability to secure Israel's "western border" is essential.
The Victoria joins the Karine A, the Santorini, the Francop, the Hansa India, the Monchegorsk and scores of smaller ships that Israel has intercepted with weapons intended for its enemies. This is in addition to Iranian military supplies to Hezbollah through Syria and Iran's own ongoing efforts to acquire nuclear weapons capabilities.
The point has frequently been made that Israel has to win every war while its Arab (or Iranian) enemies only have to win one. It may have been true that the Mavi Marmara flotilla ship, sponsored by the terrorist-linked IHH didn't have large weapons caches - it didn't have any humanitarian aid either - but the Government of Israel can't afford to miss even one.