Rassegna Stampa Elezioni Israeliane 2009

Monitoraggio attraverso i media internazionali delle elezioni in Israele del Febbraio 2009

Israel suspected of bombing Sudan arms convoy headed for Gaza

Posted by claudiacampli su 27 marzo, 2009

Israeli jets carried out a long-range bombing mission against a convoy in Sudan that was suspected of bringing arms from Iran to Hamas in the Gaza Strip, it emerged yesterday.

Sudan confirmed that an illegal arms convoy was destroyed by an airstrike near the Egyptian border at the height of the war in Gaza in January. It declined to identify which country had launched the attack.

The American news network CBS, citing US defence sources, said that the raid had been carried out by Israeli long-range fighter-bombers at the same time that Israel was hammering the Gaza Strip in an attempt to stop Hamas militants firing rockets into southern Israel.

Seventeen trucks full of weapons were destroyed and 39 people — Sudanese, Eritrean and Ethiopian smugglers — were killed. The weapons were said to have originated in Iran, which Israel accuses of being the main supplier of arms to Hamas, and to the Lebanese militia Hezbollah. Israel refused to confirm or deny the reports, mirroring its strict silence when its jets flew a high-risk raid in 2007 on a suspected nuclear plant that Syria was developing.

US sources said at the time that the Israelis had flown through Turkish air space to avoid Syrian anti-aircraft batteries and blew up a nascent reactor whose technology was supplied by North Korea and paid for by Iran.

“A convoy of vehicles carrying illegal weapons was bombed near the Sudanese-Egyptian border in mid-January,” said Mabruk Mubarak Saleem, Sudan’s Transport Minister. He confirmed that people had been killed in the raid and admitted that the weapons were bound for besieged Gaza. Hamas smuggles arms into Gaza through a network of tunnels under the border with Egypt. Some of the larger weapons, such as Iranian-made rockets capable of hitting many of Israel’s southern cities, are floated in on buoys from the Sinai coast, Israeli officials say.

Mr Saleem said that the smugglers were mainly impoverished tribesmen from his own Rashidiya Arab tribe. Israeli intelligence officials have warned in the past that Iran is sending Hamas anti-tank missiles, small arms, military grade high explosives and missiles capable of penetrating up to 40 miles into Israel.

Other Sudanese politicians confirmed the strike, without identifying who launched it. A senior politician from eastern Sudan said that colleagues had spoken to a survivor. “There was an Ethiopian fellow, a mechanic. He was the only one who survived. He said they came in two planes. They passed over them then came back and they shot the cars. He couldn’t tell the nationality of the aircraft . . . The aircraft destroyed the vehicles. There were four or five vehicles,” he said.

Sudanese media said that the attack took place northwest of Port Sudan city, near Mount al-Shaanun.

Israel has a long history of covert strikes against its enemies’ arsenals, the most famous being the 1981 raid against Saddam Hussein’s Osirak nuclear reactor, when 14 Israeli fighter-bombers and their escorts flew almost 700 miles through Jordan and Saudi Arabia, managing to evade detection before blowing up the new reactor.

That level of covert activity has been renewed in recent years, with the attack on the suspected Syrian reactor and the assassination of Imad Mughniyeh, Hezbollah’s military chief, in Damascus. being ascribed to Israel.

The latest raid was seen as a blow against Hamas’ rearmament efforts and as warning to Iran, at an advanced stage in developing its nuclear capability. The message was clear: Israel was prepared to strike long range into the heart of enemy territory.

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