Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has lashed out at “hypocrisy” over Iran as he unveiled a shipment of arms allegedly dispatched by Tehran to Gaza.
Netanyahu on Monday toured a display of rockets intercepted by navy commandos on the Red Sea last week, and accused the international community of ignoring Iranian support for armed groups while falling victim to an outreach campaign by the new leadership in Tehran.
“Iran has not abandoned its deep involvement in terrorism and its ambition to destroy the state of Israel.” Netanyahu said.
“What is new is not Iran’s deeds or its lies, but the desire of many in the international community to bury their heads in the sand.”
The Israeli navy captured the arms shipment on board the Panamanian-flagged Klos-C last week, which the military said had taken a 8,000km route starting from Syria, then to Iran and Iraq before heading towards Sudan and overland to Gaza.
The Israelis said the shipment included 40 M-302 surface-to-surface rockets manufactured in Syria with a range of 160km, capable of striking most of Israel from the Gaza Strip.
Along with the missiles, about 180 mortar shells and 400,000 rifle rounds were displayed on metal stands in the southern port of Eilat.
During the last major offensive on Gaza in 2012 between Israel and Hamas, the Palestinian movement fired M75 rockets, which have a range of 75km, which hit areas around Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
Israel says Hamas’ capabilities could have been extended significantly had the ship not been intercepted.
Iran and Gaza’s rulers both rejected Israel’s findings as fabrications.
Israel has said it has “solid and incriminating evidence” that Iran planned and executed the weapons shipment, but so far it has not made such evidence public.
“The ship was organized by Iran, dispatched by Iran, financed by Iran. The missiles were loaded by Iran, in Iran and as usual Iran denies these facts” Netanyahu said.
Netanyahu also urged the West not to be fooled by Tehran’s diplomacy on its nuclear program.
World powers are currently engaged in talks with Iran to roll back its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.
“Just as Iran hid its deadly missiles in the belly of this ship, Iran is hiding its actions and its intentions in many of its key installations for developing nuclear weapons,” he said.
“[The world] wants to delude themselves that Iran has changed its intention to obtain nuclear weapons,”
Iran and six world powers, represented by European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, struck a deal on November 24 under which Tehran curbed some sensitive nuclear activities for six months in return for limited relief from sanctions.
Iran has repeatedly rejected allegations that it is seeking nuclear weapons and insists its nuclear activities are entirely peaceful.
Israel, widely believed to have the Middle East’s sole nuclear arsenal, says a nuclear-armed Iran would pose a mortal threat to its existence.
(Agencies and Al Jazeera – www.aljazeera.com)