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Israel Seizes German-Owned Vessel, Aiming to Arm its Enemies

10:21 AM, Mar 16, 2011 • By BENJAMIN WEINTHAL
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Israel Seizes German-Owned Vessel, Aiming to Arm its Enemies

Yesterday, Israel seized another German-owned vessel containing Iranian weapons on its way to the terrorist group Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Commenting on the cargo of the German-owned ship Victoria, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, “we discovered many weapons destined for terror groups in the heart of Gaza. The source of the weapons was Iran which is trying to arm the Strip.”

The Jerusalem Post reports that, “The Victoria cargo ship that was boarded by Israeli Navy commandos on Tuesday morning was carrying advanced Chinese-made anti-ship missiles that would have threatened Israeli sea-based strategic installations and navy vessels.”

This is not the first time Germany has been lax on enforcing sanctions against Iran's merchants of death. In October 2009, the Hansa India—sailing under a German flag and owned by the Hamburg-based Leonhardt & Blumberg Company—was stopped in the Red Sea by the U.S. Navy for unlawfully transporting ammunition to Syria and Hezbollah. The next month, the Francop, a German-owned vessel, was seized by Israel’s navy because it was carrying weapons destined for Syria and Hezbollah.

German naval carriers were supposedly enforcing the 2006 U.N.-brokered cease-fire between Hezbollah and Israel after the second war in Lebanon. But while German chancellor Angela Merkel’s administration pledged to deploy its navy as part of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon to prevent the rearming of Hezbollah along the Lebanese coast, Hezbollah has ably stockpiled between 40,000 and 50,000 new rockets on Israel's northern border since the war ended.

The Islamic Republic of Iran enjoys wide latitude in using German vessels to arm Israel's enemies. This, by itself, should prompt national security bells to ring in Jerusalem and Washington. But how does one reconcile Merkel's refusal to bar the rental of German freight ships to Iranian weapons’ smugglers—and her own failure to shut down Iran's main financial terror conduit on the continent, the Hamburg-based European-Iranian Trade Bank —with her previously stated goal of advancing Western and Israeli security?

Indeed, all this makes one wonder about the meaning of Merkel's often-repeated security guarantees for the Jewish state. She reflexively tells Israeli and American politicians, “Israel's security will never be open to negotiation.”

But one must ask, if Merkel genuinely believes that Israel's security is non-negotiable, then why won't she stop dithering on Iran? While she procrastinates, Iran continues its drive to go nuclear.

Benjamin Weinthal is a fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

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