A ship allegedly carrying advanced rockets from Iran to Gaza that was intercepted by the Israeli navy will reach the port of Eilat on Saturday evening, the military said.
“This ship, which was transporting dozens of M302-type rockets with a range of 150 to 200 kilometres (more than 100 miles) is currently north of Port Sudan and will arrive in Eilat on Saturday evening,” Brigadier General Motti Almoz told military radio Thursday.
“The ship may be carrying other weapons as well but we can only know this when it reaches Eilat,” he said, referring to the resort city at the southernmost tip of Israel.
“There is clear and unequivocal information that this (shipment) came from Iran,” he said, without giving further details.
Major General Aviv Kochavi, head of military intelligence, was to give a news conference on the ship later Thursday. The military has said it was carrying rockets “capable of striking anywhere in Israel.”
Israel intercepted the “Klos-C” in the Red Sea between Eritrea and Sudan on Wednesday, claiming that Syrian-made weapons aboard had been shipped overland to Iran then onward by sea, with the aim of reaching militants in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip.
Speaking in California, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the discovery revealed “the true face of Iran” in a rebuke aimed at world powers who are negotiating with Tehran over its nuclear programme.
Israel has long accused Iran and Syria of providing military aid to Hezbollah and to Palestinian militants.
But an Iranian military official denied the allegations regarding Wednesday’s shipment, saying they were “totally without foundation,” according to a report by Iran’s Arabic-language Al-Alam television channel.
The announcement about the ship was made just hours after Israel said its troops had fired at two Hezbollah fighters in Syria as they tried to plant a bomb close to the ceasefire line in the Golan Heights.
On February 24, Israeli warplanes reportedly bombed a Hezbollah stronghold in Lebanon near the Syrian border, in what would be the first air strikes against the Shiite militant group in Lebanon since the 2006 war.
Hezbollah blamed the air strikes on Israel and vowed to retaliate.