Jerusalem silent on report Greece blocked Israeli arms shipments to Iran

Spare parts for F-4 Phantom jets said despatched by a ghost company near Haifa; TV report wonders whether this was some kind of sting operation against Iran

An American F-4 Phantom (photo credit: US Navy)
An American F-4 Phantom (photo credit: US Navy)

ATHENS — Greek authorities intercepted arms shipments apparently sent by one or more Israelis and intended for Iran, in violation of international sanctions, a Greek newspaper reported.

Greek officials, working together with the American Homeland Security Investigations agency, uncovered two shipments of spare parts for F-4 Phantom jets in December 2012 and again in April 2013, the Kathimerini daily reported over the weekend.

Israeli officials declined Sunday to comment on the report which, if true, would represent the shocking effort by Israelis to supply arms to the country’s most bitter enemy. Israel’s nightly news broadcasts featured the story prominently, but highlighted its sensitivity and stressed that they were basing their coverage on “foreign reports” rather than original coverage that might have been subjected to military censorship.

The United States was aware of the shipments “in real time,” Israel’s Channel 2 news reported, and was thus able to thwart them. The TV report added that “it has to be assumed that Israel knew too, and was updated by the United States.” Finally, the Channel 2 report suggested that this may have been some kind of sting operation against the Iranians, since “it could be that whoever did this was not acting against Israel’s interest.”

The rival Channel 10 news, by contrast, noted that “there have been cases in the past where the lust for money” overcomes the national interest.

A Greek court ordered the shipments confiscated and transferred to the Americans, according to Kathimerini, which claimed to have a copy of the investigation report.

According to the Greek report, the shipment originated in the Israeli town of Binyamina-Giv’at Ada and was sent via a Greek company based in Athens.

Investigators from the drugs and weapons unit of Greece’s Financial Crimes Squad determined the company was a ghost company, Kathimerini reported.

The firm was registered by a British national from the northern city of Thessaloniki who could not be traced.

The report did not name the Israeli or Israelis thought to be behind the smuggling attempt.

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