Navy Intercepts Hamas Arms Smugglers off Gaza Coast

YERUSHALAYIM -

Senior officers in the Israeli Navy revealed Tuesday that they intercepted and blew up a vessel attempting to smuggle weapons from the Sinai into Gaza for the use of Hamas terrorists.

In the incident, which occurred six months ago, the Navy spotted the ship on the high seas and signaled it to stop. When the ship ignored the warning, the Navy fired on it, causing the vessel and its cargo to explode.

A Navy source said that Hamas had used a civilian fishing vessel in the smuggling attempt. The vessel sailed from the southern coast of Gaza to the northern coast of the Sinai Peninsula, where it took on the weaponry.

Naval intelligence estimated that the vessel was on a smuggling mission and tracked its progress back toward Gaza. It was noticed that the fishing vessel was lower in the water than would normally be the case, a sign that it was carrying an unusually heavy load, and probably not fish.

Navy ships overtook the smugglers and warned them that if they did not stop they would be fired upon. When the warning was ignored and the vessel attempted to flee, it was fired upon. The explosion, which could be seen and heard at a considerable distance, was evidence that the boat was indeed carrying weapons.

Just before the vessel was hit, the two smugglers on board, realizing what was about to happen, dove overboard and swam for the coast, escaping capture.