GENEVA -- Officials in Israel are refusing to confirm claims by the Sudanese press that Israeli planes recently attacked weapons convoys crossing the desert in Sudan. The attacks reportedly took place between Dec. 15 and 20. Media in Sudan say Israeli jets pulverized at least two convoys headed toward Egypt. The convoys were reportedly transporting arms destined for the Gaza strip.
Not everyone in Israel is so tight-lipped. A former Israeli Air Force head told the army radio station Galeï Tsahal on Monday that whoever carried out [the attack] should be congratulated. He added: Our information was accurate as were our strikes.
Sudanese press claims the attacks killed at least five contraband traffickers. The first convoy involved six trucks packed with weapons. The second attack, which occurred Dec. 18 and involved just a single vehicle, may have been a mistake. The first raid took place while Salva Kiir, the president of the newly created Southern Sudan, was on an historic 24-hour visit to Jerusalem.
Not an isolated case
Israel has carried out periodic attacks on arms convoys crossing Sudan since 2009, shortly after the end of Operation Cast Lead, an Israeli military invasion of Gaza. The first such attack took place in January of that year, when Israeli jets blew up several all-terrain vehicles packed with explosives, reportedly killing 119 people.
Subsequent air raids were much more focused. An attack carried out in mid-2010 in Port Sudan took out a senior Hamas official in charge of supplying the armed wing of his faction. The official, whose bodyguard was also killed in the attack, was targeted just as he prepared to receive cargo. The man, whose identity was never revealed, is thought to have been the successor of Mahmoud Al Mabrouh, the high level Hamas leader assassinated in January 2010 in a Dubai hotel. Al Mabrouh was wanted by Israeli authorities for his alleged involvement in the kidnapping and murder of two Israeli soldiers in 1999.
In addition to bombers, the Israeli military has also used drones and helicopters to operate in Sudan. Following an attack last April, remains of an AGM-114S Hellfire missile, a favorite weapon of the Israeli army, were found along with various pieces of debris marked with Hebrew lettering.
According to Israeli military chroniclers, the navy also plays a central role in trying to cut of Hamas supply chains. Since 2010, the Israeli fleet may have participated in as many as 80 clandestine operations related in some way to Sudan. The Sudanese government insists also that in 2009, commandos from Israels elite Shayetet 13 naval unit sabotaged an Iranian ship transporting material for Hamas that docked in Port Sudan. Israeli authorities refuse to answer the claims.
Sudan, Kenya and several other African Union nations launched a campaign last April to bring the repeated attacks to the worlds attention. So far the efforts have mostly gone unheard.
Read the original article in French
Photo - [nivs]