Iranian Arms Ship Bound for Gaza Reportedly Carrying Long-Range Rockets Able to Reach Tel Aviv, Jerusalem
Another disturbing development is being reported in the current Gaza offensive against Israel which will raise the stakes for Israel even more. A 150-ton freighter bound for Gaza left Iran’s Bandar Abbas port Sunday with a cargo of 220 short-range missiles and 50 improved long-range Fajr-5 rockets, according to DEBKAfile intelligence sources. Fajr (sometimes spelled Fajer or Fajar) rockets are the types of rockets that have reached Tel Aviv. Fajr-5 rockets are as long as a telephone poles and typically have a range of 75 kilometers, however, Hamas has lightened the rockets’ payload, ensuring its range stretches to 85 kilometers.
Iran first supplied the Hezbollah with its Fajr rockets during Lebanon’s 2006 war with Israel. Hezbollah militants were able to reach parts of Israel never before accessed with previous rockets. In fact, the Fajr-5 were the longest range rockets of its kind ever launched at Israel from Lebanon. Now, as Operation Pillar of Defense is under way, Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad have launched a series of Fajr-5 rockets towards Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and are now poised to receive a fresh, improved shipment of these deadly long-range rockets.
DEBKA reports that the Iranian freighter carrying this new shipment of Fajr-5s turned toward the Bab al-Mandeb Straits and the Red Sea. These new and improved Fajrs reportedly have a 200-kilo warhead, which has the capacity to deliver a far more powerful blast than its 175 kilo-predecessor. DEBKA explains how, in an attempt to trick Israeli surveillance, Iran obfuscated the freighter’s origin by renaming it from “Vali-e Asr” owned by the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Linesto “Cargo Star” bearing the flag of Tuvalu, a Polynesian island in the South Pacific which Iran largely subsidizes.
According to DEBKA, Prime Minister of Tuvalu, Willy Telavi, agreed to register Iran’s entire tanker fleet of 22 vessels to the tiny island in an effort to help the Islamic Republic skirt the U.S. oil embargo. DEBKA adds that, for most of the journey, the freighter was escorted by two Iranian warships, the Khark and the Shahid Naqdi, which are both permanently stationed in the Red Sea. DEBKA adds:
Our intelligence sources have learned that four big Sudanese shipping boats sailed out of Port Sudan early Monday and are waiting to rendezvous with the Cargo Star and offload its missile cargo in mid-sea.
The Sudanese will then be told by Tehran whether put into Port Sudan with the missiles, or turn north and sail up the Red Sea to the Straits of Tiran to link up with Egyptian fishing boats which regularly ply this waterway in the service of Palestinian-Iranian smuggling networks. They would unload the missile cargo in a quiet inlet on the Sinai coast. From there, it would be carried to the smuggling tunnels running from Sinai under the border into the Gaza Strip.
Once the rockets arrive in Gaza, Iranian and Hezbollah technicians will reportedly aid the Palestinians in assembling the weapons.
Iranian sources also revealed to DEBKA that the jihadist leader Ramadan Abdullah Shelah was scolded sharply Tehran for meeting Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi in Cairo Sunday to discuss terms of a potential cease-fire in the Gaza conflict.
Below is a graphic, provided by the IDF reviewing various Hamas rockets and their respective ranges:
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