Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, specifically its elite Quds Force, was behind the attempt to smuggle weapons to the Gaza Strip that was thwarted by Israeli troops on Wednesday, the head of military intelligence said at a press conference on Thursday.
Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi said the Revolutionary Guards has opened an investigation following the navy operation, and will likely hold off on further arms shipments until it discovers who leaked the information to the Israeli intelligence.
“According to our assessments, they will stop attempts to smuggle arms in the southern axis for a few months,” Kochavi said. “Exposing the ship spurred an investigation in the Revolutionary Guards on the leaks that led to the failed attempt to transfer the weapons.”
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.
“This ship, which was transporting dozens of M302-type rockets with a range of 150 to 200 kilometers (more than 100 miles), is currently north of Port Sudan and will arrive in Eilat on Saturday evening,” Brigadier General Motti Almoz told Army Radio Thursday.
“The ship may be carrying other weapons as well but we can only know this when it reaches Eilat,” Almoz 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.
Kochavi stressed that the Israel has strong evidence that “strengthens and incriminates the Iranian ties to the case.”
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 program.
Israel has long accused Iran and Syria of providing military aid to Hezbollah and to Palestinian terrorist groups.
An Iranian military official denied the allegations regarding the shipment, saying they were “totally without foundation,” according to a report by Iran’s Arabic-language Al-Alam television channel.
AFP contributed to this report.