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November 08, 2009

Lost At Sea on Seized Ship Coverage

Among the weaponry found on the Francop were 122mm Katyusha rockets, packaged in crates labeled "parts of bulldozer" and "equipment for construction (photo by IDF Spokesperson)

The International Herald Tribune, published by the New York Times, dedicates exactly one paragraph to Israel's seizure of the Francop ship reportedly bound for Hezbollah and laden with hundreds of tons of weapons, in violation of U.N. Resolution 1701:

Israel seized a ship near Cyprus on Wednesday that military officials said was carrying more than 60 tons of missiles, rockets and anti-tank weapons bound for guerillas of Hezbollah, the Lebanon-base [sic] group with political, social and military functions. Israel offered no evidence to support its claim that the weapons came from Iran and were intended for Hezbollah. (AP) (Emphasis added.)

But Ha'aretz reported the very same day that there were clear signs that the cargo had originated in Iran:

The containers on the ship Francop, which the Israel Navy raided yesterday, were marked with the acronym IRISL. That stands for Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines.

IRISL is a state-controlled company with a fleet of 95 commercial ships, including 18 container ships. It plies routes to the Far East, the Gulf, Egypt and Europe. And it is one of the companies the UN Security Council listed in its sanctions resolutions against Iran, due to its role in transporting equipment for Tehran's nuclear and missile programs.

The company's directors are fully aware of this problem, as are the commanders of the Quds Force - the branch of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards that is responsible for shipping arms to Syria, Hamas and Hezbollah. They all know that ships with Iranian flags, or that have been leased by IRISL, are likely to draw the attention of western intelligence services and their navies.

Therefore, in an effort to divert attention, they loaded hundreds of containers onto a single Iranian ship that sailed to the Egyptian port of Dumyat. The cargo manifest described the shipment as a civilian cargo of polyethylene, a common plastic. At the Egyptian port, the containers were loaded onto Francop, a German ship that flies the flag of Antigua. Its destination was Latakia, a port in Syria, from which the arms would be smuggled overland to Lebanon.

Posted by TS at November 8, 2009 03:41 AM


That is not a mortar round in the picture. I would suggest it might be a 122mm Grad.

I think this is the M48 in question

I would like a better picture from the idfspokesperson if at all possible.

Posted by: t34zakat at November 8, 2009 11:38 AM

Thank you for pointing this out t34zakat. We have changed the caption. The error was due to a mismatching on our part of captions and images provided by the MFA.

Posted by: TS at November 9, 2009 02:07 AM

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