The vessel was brought by the Israeli Navy to the Ashdod port for further searches and detailed inspection of the cargo.
The vessel was on its way from the Port of Mersin in Turkey to Alexandria in Egypt.
According to assessments, the various weaponry on-board the vessel was intended for the use of terror organizations operating in the Gaza Strip.
The IDF would like to note that Turkey is not tied to the incident in any way.
The operation was approved as necessary in accordance with government directives in light of the Chief of the General Staff's recommendations. Earlier this morning, Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz updated the Minister of Defense, Mr. Ehud Barak, about the findings on-board the vessel.
The IDF and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs alerted about the interception of the "Victoria" to the German authorities, due to the German ownership of the ship. In addition, the government of Liberia, whose flag it was flying under, was notified, as well as France, due to the French shipping company.
The operation was under the command of the IDF Navy Commander, Maj. Gen. Eliezer Marom, and the interception was under the command of the Navy Special Forces Commander. The vessel's crew and content will be transferred to an Israeli port for questioning and further inspection.
The IDF will continue its intelligence and operational activities in order to maintain Israel's security interests and prevent arms smuggling that will fuel the terror infrastructure in the Gaza Strip and Lebanon.
As many as 50 tons of weapons discovered
The Victoria carried as much as 50 tons of weapons, an amount similar to that of the Karin A
, a ship caught by the IDF sailing to the Palestinian Authority in 2002. According to the Israeli Navy, this is only a preliminary estimate and weaponry found on the ship will be checked only after the Victoria docks at the Ashdod port. As mentioned, along with the strategic weapons found on the ship, a large amount of 60 and 120 mm mortar shells were found as well.
. Mortar shell (Photo: IDF Spokesperson)
of weaponry and weaponry systems discovered and unloaded at Ashdod port hidden in the cargo of the Victoria:
- 230 mortar shells (120 mm)
- 2,270 mortar shells (60 mm)
- 6 C-704 anti-ship missiles
- 2 radar systems manufactured in England
- 2 launchers
- 2 hydraulic mounting cranes for radar system
- 66,960 bullets for Kalashnikov rifles (7.62 mm)
Anti-ship missiles and guidebooks in Persian found on Victoria
The C-704 (NASR 1) anti-ship missiles found aboard the ship
Missile identification document in Persian bearing the Iranian governmental emblem found onboard the Victoria, noting the name of the missile ("Nasser"), the missile system (C-704), and date of manufacture. (Photos: IDF Spokesperson)
Among weapons found on the deck of the Victoria, Navy Commando 13 soldiers found C-704 anti-ship missiles equipped with radars and a range of 35 kilometers. "These are strategic weapons. If Hamas gets its hands on them they would seriously damage strategic infrastructure at sea and at shore," said Israel Navy Chief Brig. Gen. Rani Ben-Yehuda.
According to Brig. Gen. Ben Yehuda, these types of missiles are dangerous not just to Navy ships but also to civilian vessels usually arriving at the Ashdod Harbor. "Because the missiles can be programmed to work automatically, they pose a threat to any additional targets within their range. They are easier to control and mobilize than previous missiles," he explained.
According to IDF intelligence gathering, Hamas does not currently carry missiles of this type in the Gaza Strip. That said, The Hizbullah terrorist organization in Lebanon does have similar capabilities.
The Navy Chief added that guidebooks in Farsi were found on the ship along with other symbols of the Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution, another indication that the Victoria was an Iranian attempt to shift the order of power in the Middle East.