Iran on Arms Shipment: 'Zionist Regime Lies'

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JERUSALEM, Israel - Despite ironclad proof that the Iranian-made weaponry aboard the Victoria were meant to be smuggled into the Gaza Strip, both Iran and Hamas denied any connection to the arms shipment.

The Israeli Navy intercepted the ship early Monday about 200 miles off Israel's Mediterranean coast.

The preliminary information released by the Israel Defense Forces included an initial list of the 50-ton weapons cache, which was similar in scope to the 2002 weapons seizure of the Karine A bound for the Palestinian Authority.

Iranian Chief of Staff Gen. Atallah Salhi told the FARS news agency on Wednesday that Israel fabricated the whole story.

"The Jerusalem occupation regime is a regime of lies, production of lies and dissemination of lies. We reject all of these mendacious reports," Salhi.

"Allah willing, this regime will sink into the Mediterranean Sea like the regime of the pharaohs of Egypt," Salhi said.

"The Zionist regime's diet is mixed with lies, lies and more lies. We deny all false reports. The Zionist regime is a usurper. There is an Islamic awakening throughout the Middle East and North Africa that sees the damage," he said.

Salhi added that the Jewish state was the only nation harmed by the rise of Islam in North Africa and the Middle East.

"There is no doubt Israel is calculating its losses since the departure of the Egyptian pharaoh," he said. "Allah willing, they will sink to the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea," predicting that "next year the armed forces of the Islamic Republic will be strong than ever."

Hamas, the Palestinian faction controlling the Gaza Strip, also denied any connection with the incident, Israel Radio reported.

Along with the weapons, the IDF found an identification document for the anti-ship missiles written in Iran's Farsi language. Iranian government emblems were also there.

The preliminary list of weapons include 230 120mm mortar shells, 2,270 60mm mortar shells, six C-704 anti-ship missiles, two British-manufactured radar systems, two launchers, two hydraulic mounting cranes for radar systems, and 66,960 7.62mm bullets for Kalashnikov rifles.

The C-704s, with their 22-mile range, "would have constituted a significant gain in the weapons capabilities of the terror organizations" operating in the Gaza Strip, the IDF Spokesperson's Office reported.
In a related matter, the Israel Air Force targeted a terror base in Gaza Wednesday morning, killing two terrorists, after Hamas fired a rocket at southern Israel that exploded in the Negev. There were no injuries or property damage in the attack. The IDF has made it a policy to retaliate for rocket and mortar shell attacks on Israeli towns and cities.

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