An Iranian 150-ton freighter departed Bandar Abbas port Sunday, Nov. 18, with a cargo of 220 short-range missiles and 50 improved long-range Fajar-5 rockets for the Gaza Strip, DEBKAfile’s intelligence sources report. The ship turned toward the Bab al-Mandeb Straits and the Red Sea.
The new Fajar-5s have a 200-kilo warhead, which packs a bigger punch than the 175 kilos of explosives delivered by the rockets in current use with the Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip. To extend their range to cover the 85 kilometers from Gaza to Tel Aviv, Hamas removed a part of their payloads to make them lighter.
Tehran is sending the fresh supply of disassembled rockets to replenish the stocks its allies, the Palestinian Hamas and Jihad Islami, depleted in their round-the-clock attacks on Israel since Nov. 10.
To throw Israeli surveillance off the trail, the ship started its voyage called Vali-e Asr owned by the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines, and was quickly renamed Cargo Star and hoisted the flag of Tuvalu. This South Pacific island nation, which lies between Hawaii and Australia, has a tiny population of 11,000, most of them Polynesians. Iran provides most of its revenue since earlier this year when Prime Minister Willy Telavi agreed to register Iran’s entire tanker fleet of 22 vessels to Tuvalu, to help Tehran dodge the US-EU oil embargo.