Israelis Prove Weapons Ship came from Iran
Israel has released photos showing that the cargo ship it seized last week of the coast of Cyprus was indeed carrying weapons manufactured in Iran, and destined for the Hezbollah militia in Lebanon.
Hundreds of tons of weapons were found aboard the container vessel, some of a type made only in Iran. Grenades, artillery and mortar shells, small arms ammunition, shells for recoiless rifles, and over 3,000 rockets were among the cargo found in the shipping containers aboard the ship.
Many of the containers bore the logo of the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines and Iranian armed forces customs labels were found on cargo.
Israel also produced labeling from the containers indicating the ship originated in Isfahan, Iran.
Israel claims the mortar shells and artillery rockets found aboard are manufactured by the Iranian defense industry, such as 107 mm "Haseb" artillery rockets that are identical to those used by Iranian-armed Iraqi insurgents.
Israel released documents and pictures on Wednesday which it said provided proof that a massive arms shipment seized at sea last week came from Iran.
Israeli commandos intercepted the Antigua-flagged "Francop" near the coast of Cyprus, claiming it was taking the weapons to Syria en route to the Lebanese Hezbollah militia.
Israel immediately accused arch-foe Iran of sending the cargo, but on Wednesday offered for the first time evidence to back up the charges and detailed the extent of the cache.
"Hidden among the dozens of other containers on board, and disguised as civilian goods, the ship contained a consignment of 36 shipping containers with 500 tones of arms en route via Syria to the Hezbollah terrorist organisation in Lebanon," the army and foreign ministry said in a statement.
"A total of about 9,000 mortar bombs of different types were seized, along with about 3,000 Katyusha artillery rockets, 3,000 recoilless gun shells, 20,000 grenades and over half a million rounds of small arms ammunition," the statement said.
It was accompanied by photos showing the ship's manifest, containers bearing the logo of the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines and cargo with Iranian armed forces customs labels.
Among the weapons seized were 2,124 Iranian-made 107mm artillery rockets and thousands of AZ111-A2 fuses manufactured only in Iran, the statement said.
Pictures also showed boxes of rockets labelled as "parts of bulldozers," a suggestion of attempts to disguise the shipment.
Iran and Hezbollah have both denied any link to the ship.
Israel, which was hit by thousands of rockets fired by Hezbollah during the 2006 war in Lebanon, has said the captured ship proved Iran was helping Hezbollah to prepare for another round of fighting.
A UN Security Council resolution which brought an end to the 2006 war demanded the disarmament of all militias in Lebanon and imposed a ban on all arms exports to them.
The UN has yet to comment on the information displayed by Israel.
On Thursday, the vessel was released without it's cargo of arms.