Israel Detains Weapons Ship Crossing Dead Sea from Jordan to Palestinians

Jerusalem, July 25 - Israel thwarted a weapons smuggling attempt from Jordan to Palestinians in the West Bank via the Dead Sea, Israeli military sources said.

The motor boat was filled with AK-47 assault rifles, magazines and additional weaponry, AFP reported. The two men aboard the boat were apprehended. It has not been confirmed whether they are of Palestinian or Jordanian origin.

The Dead Sea, the lowest point on earth, is considered "dead" because of its extremely high concentration of salinity. It forms a natural 43-mile border between Jordan and Israel. The two countries signed a peace treaty in 1994 and have maintained relatively peaceful relations since.

Military experts are looking into what type of boat the smugglers used that could sustain the high rates of salinity.

Weapons smuggling has been a persistent concern for Israel.

Hamas and Hezbollah, Iranian proxies from the south and north, respectively, have smuggled tons of weapons and ammunition by land, air and sea in recent year.

On March 15, Israel seized a Liberian-flagged ship, Victoria, which was carrying weapons of Iranian origin destined for terrorist groups in Gaza. Israel was performing routine security operations when it discovered the ship that was smuggling the weapons to Hamas-controlled Gaza. The ship allegedly left from Turkey and was sailing to Egypt, although intelligence officials believe the ship was originally organized by Syria.

See below for a timeline of Israel's thwarting of smuggling attempts.

Timeline: Arms Ships Intercepted by Israeli Navy

15 March 2011: The Liberian-flagged Victoria is intercepted 200 miles west of Israel's coast, sailing from Turkey with a listed destination as Alexandria, Egypt. The vessel is found to be carrying an assortment of weaponry most likely destined for Gaza-based terror groups.

24 March 2010: The U.S. Air Force conducts air-strikes against an arms-smuggling convoy carrying weapons destined for Gaza near the Egyptian city of Port Sudan. The weapons were to be funneled through Sudan and the Sinai and delivered through tunnels to Gaza recipients.

4 November 2009: The German-owned, Cypriot-operated Francop is intercepted by the Israeli Navy off the coast of Cyprus. Found to be carrying over 300 tons of weapons, it had set out 10-days prior from Bandar Abbas in Iran.

October 2009: The Hansa India, sailing from Iran under a Germany flag, was set to disembark in Egypt. German authorities warned that the vessel did not unload and instead sailed to Malta where it was seized. It was carrying bullets and industrial material for weapons production intended for Syria.

4 January 2002: 50 tons of weapons destined for the Palestinian Authority aboard the Karine-A. The ship was purchased by the Palestinian Authority, loaded with weapons by Iran and Hezbollah, manned by Palestinian Authority personnel, with the aim of transferring the weapons it carried to the Palestinian Naval Police near the Gaza beaches.

6 May 2001: Over $10 million worth of weaponry is discovered aboard the Santorini, with an investigation showing it was destined for Ahmad Jibril's Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command. Departing from Libya, carefully sealed and waterproofed barrels of weapons and ammunition were to be unloaded off the Gaza coast at pre-arranged locations.


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