Remember the massive photo ops earlier this month during the grand unveiling of “advanced” weapons bound for “terrorist organizations” in Gaza? After Israel’s special operation interception of the Panama-flagged KLOS C civilian cargo ship which Israel alleged carried a shipment orchestrated by Iran, Netanyahu “triumphantly” toured the display and made an angry fear mongering speech. The finale of a hasbara fiasco described by AP journalist Aron Heller as “a five-day PR blitz“. And coincidentally, as Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif surmised, the big catch was just in time for AIPAC’s annual conference.
Well, Reuters is reporting some US analysts don’t think it was headed to Gaza. We’re shocked!
Some U.S. intelligence analysts and Middle East security officials believe that a rocket shipment seized by the Israeli navy in the Red Sea this month was destined for the Egyptian Sinai and not for the Gaza Strip, as Israel says.
A U.S. official and two non-Israeli regional sources said Israel appeared to be insisting on the Gaza destination in order to spare the military-backed interim Egyptian administration embarrassment as it struggles to impose order in the Sinai.
Netanyahu compared the “silence” over Iran to the criticism Israel gets over its settlement expansion and accused the international community of “hypocrisy” and “falling victim” to Tehran.
During the big hullabaloo, some people wondered how these munitions were allegedly supposed to be smuggled into Gaza, given Israel guards the coastline and Gaza’s once active port like a hawk.
Here’s more from Reuters:
Israel has been hazy in public about how the 5.5 meter-long (18-foot) M302s might have entered Gaza. The coastal enclave is under heavy Israeli surveillance, and Cairo has clamped down on the Egypt-Gaza frontier and the smuggling tunnels there.
Asked on the day of the ship seizure which Palestinian militants were to have received the arms cache and how, Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon said: “I don’t know, but it is clear this was meant to reach terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip … The route is well known and it seems that they tried to revive it.”
Yeah, clear as day Moshe.
“You look at those things and it’s obvious they couldn’t have been slipped into Gaza,” the official said, adding that the
M302s were not designed to be disassembled for easier smuggling.
Israel is said to have been reluctant to point that out publicly because it would embarrass the Egyptian military junta, which they have gotten extremely cozy with. That’s not the only problem, though.
Weapons bound for al-Qaeda-linked fighters in north Egypt are almost certainly not coming out of Iran, and the admission that the ship wasn’t headed to Gaza will inevitably cause people to reexamine the lack of evidence of Iranian involvement. The Israeli ‘evidence’ began and ended with a few bags of cement on the ship, with the words “made in Iran” printed on them in English.
Meanwhile, anyone hear another peep about US Homeland Security’s investigation of the Israeli weapons deal to Iran? Or is that a done deal?
(Hat tip Alex Kane)