Israel will not tolerate Syrian attempts to transfer advanced weaponry to Hezbollah and Hamas, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman warned Thursday during a meeting in Rome with his Russian counterpart, a staunch ally of Syria.
According to the Foreign Ministry, Liberman told Russian FM Sergey Lavrov that “the missiles that were intercepted yesterday on the ship that was en route to Gaza were manufactured in Syria, and that we’ve identified more attempts by Syria to transfer sophisticated weapons to Hezbollah and Hamas, and we are not prepared to accept this situation.”
Israeli forces intercepted the “Klos-C” near Port Sudan early Wednesday morning. According to Israel, the Gaza-bound missile shipment had been tracked from Damascus to Iran and then to Iraq before being captured en route to the Hamas-controlled territory. The United States confirmed Wednesday that it shared Israel’s suspicions and that the two countries had worked together in tracking the shipment.
When naval commandos from the elite Shayetet 13 unit boarded and took control of the ship, soldiers found several dozen advanced Syrian M-302 missiles, with a range of up to 200 kilometers (125 miles) and a payload of up to 170 kilograms (375 pounds) hidden in shipping containers also carrying sacks of concrete.
Russia has been an ally of Bashar Assad throughout the civil war and was instrumental in helping him avoid a US military strike by negotiating a deal to dismantle Syria’s chemical weapons program.
Liberman told Lavrov that he hopes Russia will continue its efforts to ensure the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons. He also conveyed Israel’s concerns over mounting tensions in the Golan Heights, where Israel said on Wednesday it fired on and killed two Hezbollah-affiliated militants who were attempting to plant a bomb near the border fence. On Thursday, Damascus filed a complaint with the UN Security Council claiming Israel fired at a mosque and a school near the demilitarized zone separating the two countries, injuring seven soldiers and four civilians.
The two foreign ministers also discussed the ongoing Israel-Palestinian peace talks, but did not release any details.
Liberman is also expected to meet with US Secretary of State John Kerry during his trip to Rome.
The Times of Israel Staff contributed to this report.