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Israel has filed an official complaint with the United Nations following its seizure earlier this week of the German-owned boxship MV FRANCOP laden with arms allegedly bound for Hezbollah. 

The complaint singles out the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines for repeatedly engaging in arms trafficking.

The Lebanese militia group Hezbollah denied any link to weapons on boxship and refuted the Israeli claims.

Israel’s navy has intercepted the Antigua & Barbuda-flagged containership 160 km off its coast.

The 864 teu, was caught with dozens of containers carrying and ordnance reportedly disguised as civilian cargo.

According to the Israeli authorities, commandos who boarded the 864 teu Francop uncovered 500 tonnes of weapons in 36 containers disguised as aid delivery of mainly food.

But behind the blinds more than 3000 Raketen, anti-tank weapons, rocket propelled grenades, hand-grenades and many boxes of ammunition for assault rifles.

The cargo was allegedly transported by a small vessel from Iran to the Egyptian harbour Domiat and there transferred onto the MV FRANCOP, which was supposed to first sail to Cyprus and then to the Syrian harbour Latakia, from where it would have gone by land into Lebanon.

The German authorities apparently are satisfied with the explanation of the owner of the vessel, Gerd Bartels, that the ship was permanently chartered to United Feeder Services and that the real owner of the vessel had no knowledge of the cargo.

It is, however, the second time in a few weeks that a German vessel is involved in weapons-smuggling. Just recently the US navy boarded in the Red Sea the German freighter MV HANSA INDIA (a sister ship to the HANSA STAVANGER, which was sea-jacked off Somalia not long ago). The vessel owned by the Hamburger shipping magnate Leonhardt und Blumberg actually carried several containers with cartridges for automatic weapons.

The German authorities are investigating also this case, though even the involvement of several German vessels in the alleged arms smuggling to Sudan via Kenya has not yet been concluded.
© Ecoterra -

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