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IDF Hints That Abu Seesi Connected to Seizure of Ship with Iranian Weapons


Israeli commandos intercept Victoria, which allegedly carried Iranian arms (photo: IDF)

Israeli navy commandos finally succeeded in commandeering a ship on the high seas without killing anyone.  It was a German-owned cargo ship, the Victoria, which Israel claims contained a treasure trove of sophisticated Iranian weapons bound for Gaza.  The vessel was bound for the port of Alexandria where it presumably, if Israel is correct, would’ve off-loaded its contents and proceeded to smuggle them into Gaza.  This is generally how much of the arms entering Gaza find there way there.  The ship had begun its journey at the Syrian port of Latakia, where the Israelis likely believe it onloaded the weapons which had likely been shipped there overland from Iran.

What astonished me though was this report from Channel 2 TV news military correspondent Roni Daniel ( in Hebrew, around the 6:00 mark),  in which he noted that the entire arms shipment was under the supervision of a Ukrainian company based in Odessa.  He took a question from the anchor asking whether the kidnapping of Dirar Abu Seesi was connected to this episode.  Daniel replied that the answer wasn’t known, but the question was “complicated.”

If you consider that there has been a gag order invoked by the military censor on development of domestic reporting on this case, it’s clear that Daniel was leaked everything about this smuggling operation and its interdiction by the IDF including the alleged involvement of Abu Seesi.  No Israeli media would report this sort of information unless they had the approval of the IDF to do so.  You can see how much the Israeli army repsects its own gags when it’s convenient to ignore them.

So the IDF is planting the idea that Abu Seesi is involved in the arms shipment, presumably traveling to Ukraine on behalf of Hamas to deal with the smugglers conducting the operation.  It’s a wonder they didn’t just smother him in the train carriage as they did Mahmoud al-Mabouh.  But I guess Mossad learned its lesson from Dubai and thought extrarodinary rendition might be more palatable than murder.

It’s not clear whether this is a bluff and that the IDF is simply piggybacking Abu Seesi onto a convenient development like the Iranian arms seizure.  This way the IDF gets to kill two birds with one stone.  In that case, this would be just another one of those “flyers” the IDF takes casting out wild claims as fact and waiting to see who, if anyone bites.

Or perhaps, in the event this claim has any truth, Abu Seesi may play some role as a Hamas arms merchant.  In that case, I suppose we should be grateful the Ukrainain security services and Mossad didn’t do an “al-Mabouh” on him and smother him in his railway carriage as he slept.

One question I would have about the claim is why would the Ukrainians have gone forward with the shipment if they knew Abu Seesi had been captured and handed over to the Mossad and Shabak.  By February 24th, his wife was already claiming he’d been kidnapped by the Mossad.  Presumably, any information the Gaza engineer had would then be exposed and would compromise the project.  This part of the IDF story simply doesn’t add up.

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{ 32 comments… add one }

  • Yotam March 15, 2011, 11:39 PM

    “Israeli navy commandos finally succeeded in commandeering a ship on the high seas without killing anyone.”

    S. 13 commandos regularly board ships and inspect them for weaponry. They’ve also seized ships based on specific intelligence in the past, with no resistance or casualties.

    “What astonished me though was this report from Channel 2 TV news military correspondent Roni Daniel (around the 6:00 mark) in which he noted that the entire arms shipment was under the supervision of a Ukrainian company based in Odessa. ”

    The former Soviet republics are an illicit arms dealer’s paradise, serving both as massive reservoirs of effective (if less than cutting edge) and shall we say “poorly accounted for” Soviet weaponry and conduits for relatively risk-free smuggling. So these reports are hardly astonishing.

    “One question I would have about the claim is why would the Ukrainians have gone forward with the shipment if they knew Abu Seesi had been captured and handed over to the Mossad and Shabak. By February 24th, his wife was already claiming he’d been kidnapped by the Mossad. Presumably, any information the Gaza engineer had would then be exposed and would compromise the project. This part of the IDF story simply doesn’t add up.”

    There’s a difference between being involved and knowing which ship the weapons are going to be stashed in. Compartmentalization is a time tested method. And it becomes all the more crucial for a technologically inferior actor.

    More generally, this theory (which you’ve extrapolated from a noncommittal remark by a military correspondent and are now passing off as “The IDF Story”) is much more probable-by orders of magnitude-than the ones you’ve come up with so far.

    • Richard Silverstein March 16, 2011, 12:17 AM

      S. 13 commandos regularly board ships and inspect them for weaponry.

      The commandos have not boarded a vessel as large & significant as the Victoria since they botched the Mavi Marmara hijacking.

      So these reports are hardly astonishing.

      Your quote was out of context & should’ve included the next sentence in which the reporter managed to drag Abu Seesi into the story. THAT was what astonished me. Not that the Ukraine might participate in arms trafficking. The experience of the Abu Seesis there indicates the place is rife with violence, lawlessness & corruption like a good many ex-Soviet states run by Soviet style strongmen (& even a few Middle Eastern ones).

      Compartmentalization is a time tested method.

      Compartmentalization doesn’t matter. If anyone connected with the operation was arrested it could compromise the entire operation & any sensible manager would call it off.

      the ones you’ve come up with so far.

      You mean “than the ones come up with” by the Wall Street Journal, AP and NY TImes among others, don’t you. Easy to cast aspersions on my theories, but you’re really casting aspersion on theirs as well since THEY are the one who speculated that Israel in a fit of pique snatched the power plant engineer because he’d figured a way to maintain it independently of Israel. Or did you forget that was their theory & not mine?

      • Yosefus Plavius March 16, 2011, 5:02 AM

        “The commandos have not boarded a vessel as large & significant as the Victoria since they botched the Mavi Marmara hijacking.”

        and how would you know that ? Vessels are being inspected daily on that part of the world, By S 13 among others.

        as for the reports of the NYT, AP and others ? so what ? they are as delusional as you are, not a big surprise considering the human resource.

        • Richard Silverstein March 16, 2011, 1:31 PM

          Calling reporters w some of the most distinguished papers in this country tells us a whole lot more about yr warped ideology than their competence.

      • Yotam March 16, 2011, 10:41 PM

        “The commandos have not boarded a vessel as large & significant as the Victoria since they botched the Mavi Marmara hijacking.”

        You sure about that? Because a month ago it was reported that a S.13 soldier was severely wounded in an operation that took place far from Israel’s borders (he survived): http://news.nana10.co.il/Article/?ArticleID=779684

        So you’ve looked into that and concluded that no boarding of “significant” ships was involved? Anat Kamm is small fry compared to the sources you must have in the heart of Israel’s covert action apparatus….

        “Your quote was out of context & should’ve included the next sentence in which the reporter managed to drag Abu Seesi into the story. THAT was what astonished me. ”

        So let me get this straight: you don’t doubt that the Ukraine is an arms trafficker’s paradise, nor would you be surprised if Ukrainians were involved in this particular Hamas-bound arms shipment. And yet you are astonished that Daniel dared to suggest that the Abu Seesi case is somehow connected to all this?

        “Compartmentalization doesn’t matter. If anyone connected with the operation was arrested it could compromise the entire operation & any sensible manager would call it off.”

        Of course it matters. Sensible managers take calculated risks. And sensible spy-masters routinely risk human lives, war, diplomatic relations with allies etc. They certainly don’t give up after a single operative is arrested before considering the nature and larger significance of the information he was exposed to.

        “You mean “than the ones come up with” by the Wall Street Journal, AP and NY TImes among others, don’t you. Easy to cast aspersions on my theories, but you’re really casting aspersion on theirs as well…”

        So? They were all speculating on the basis of the only information available to them: Abu Seesi’s work in the power station. We’re not talking about in depth reporting here.

        • Richard Silverstein March 17, 2011, 2:12 AM

          So let me get this straight:

          No, you didn’t get anything straight. You should’ve written: “Let me get this wrong” or “let me deliberately misconstrue this.” That would’ve been more accurate.

          nor would you be surprised if Ukrainians were involved in this particular Hamas-bound arms shipment

          That’s certainly not what I said at all. A TV reporter using info fed to him by the IDF claimed the Ukrainians directed the smuggling effort. I don’t know whether that report is true or not. It could be. It might not be.

          And yet you are astonished that Daniel dared to suggest that the Abu Seesi case is somehow connected to all this?

          What’s the connection between Abu Seesi & the arms shipment except that a Gazan was in Ukraine a few weeks before the ship was captured? Might there be a real connection? Sure. But is there definitely a connection? How would you or I (unless of course you’re one of the paid hasbarists/intelligence types who sniff around these parts) or anyone know since the IDF conveniently parcels out its info to its fair haired Israeli reporters in teaspoons while providing absolutely no proof whatsoever.

          Sensible managers take calculated risks.

          Well, I guess the manager of this venture didn’t take very smart risks (that is, IF Abu Seesi was involved–a VERY BIG if) since he was abducted & they went ahead w. the operation anyway & Israel nabbed the shipment. Connections bet. the 2? Maybe. If Abu Seesi was a participant did he know something that helped the IDF identify the ship? If so, then the manager was a fool for not stopping it. He lost a few million dollars at least worth of munitions.

          They were all speculating on the basis of the only information available to them: Abu Seesi’s work in the power station. We’re not talking about in depth reporting here.

          I’ll take the reporting of those three superb U.S. media outlets over anything you can provide any day of the week. It’s your comment that’s not “in depth” rather than their reporting. You have no idea what their sources are unless you’re based in Gaza or have some special knowledge of what they based their reporting on (& you have none).

          • Shai March 17, 2011, 5:55 AM

            A TV reporter using info fed to him by the IDF claimed the Ukrainians directed the smuggling effort.

            See, what I don’t get is why the IDF would make such a claim. How would that be beneficial – regardless of whether it is true or not?

  • free man March 16, 2011, 1:13 AM

    “Israeli navy commandos finally succeeded in commandeering a ship on the high seas without killing anyone. ”
    That is cheap propaganda and a blunt lie.
    No hiding behind twisting logic here.

  • Arik Elman March 16, 2011, 2:53 AM

    I’m starting to think that there’s no actual Richard Silverstein. That your site is some kind of prank so Israelis of almost all political stripes can look at a parody of American Jewish liberal and walk away in disgust. But let’s pretend you’re a real person and not a caricature, shall we?

    1. When the crew of a ship submits to a search under a lawful blockade, nobody needs to get hurt. The Victoria case is an illustration that the “peaceful” juhadists on Marmara were behaving stupidly, not that the Israelis were in the wrong by demanding to search the ship.

    2. “Israelis likely believe it onloaded the weapons which had likely been shipped”. Really likely?

    3. “It’s a wonder they didn’t just smother him in the train carriage”. If Israel could arrest Mabhouh, it would. He was more useful alive. Anyway, Daniel in no way supports your speculation and the Army spokesman flat-out denies any connection. You should brush up on your Hebrew.

    4. If Abu Seesi was indeed a Hamas death merchant, why are you grateful that he’s still alive? Do you believe that Hamas is not at war with Israel? Do you believe that Hamas’ cause is just?

    • Deïr Yassin March 16, 2011, 3:37 AM

      When people write under their real name, and I find their statements particularly extremist or ridiculous (yours have been both), I sometimes google them. On your facebook page you state that you love Sarah Palin. Well, we don’t really need to know any more, do we ??

      • Richard Silverstein March 16, 2011, 1:24 PM

        Thanks for such good research. Supports the settlers & Sarah Palin. That’ s quite a combination, no?

        Oh & I don’t exist…but I am yr worst nightmare.

    • Deïr Yassin March 16, 2011, 3:45 AM

      Oh, and I forgot your professional profile:
      You’ve been press secretary to “Yisrael B’Alyia” and are actually in charge of the Israeli Foreign Ministry’s website in Russian.

      A professional Hasbarista !!

      • Shai March 16, 2011, 4:11 AM

        Shouldn’t that make for interesting conversation? Don’t scare him away! Besides, it’s not so professional of him to look away in disgust when he stumbles upon potential work!

        • Arik Elman March 16, 2011, 4:51 AM

          That’s not work. That’s fun.

          • Deïr Yassin March 16, 2011, 5:06 AM

            “That’s not work. That’s fun”

            Tells what kind of a person you are. You’re commenting here for fun ?? I think that’s tragic. And your “that’s not work. That’s fun” reminds me of a testimony I read by an Israeli soldier, explaining why they harassed the Palestinians in al-khalil (Hebron). Sick …

          • Andrew March 16, 2011, 9:35 AM

            That’s what Goebbles must have said!

        • Mavros March 16, 2011, 8:49 AM

          I agree, let’s not scare him away!

          His simplistic views combined with his revenge-seeking attitude are a refreshing addition to the debate.

      • Yosefus Plavius March 16, 2011, 5:03 AM

        At least he isn’t hiding like you are.

      • Richard Silverstein March 16, 2011, 1:26 PM

        I love it, bless you Deir Yassin. At least he doesn’t hide behind a cowardly pseudonym. But in his case it might be better if he did.

        • Deïr Yassin March 16, 2011, 1:45 PM

          Yes, if I were Arik I wouldn’t show my real identity. At Huffington Post, he’s claimed that “Aljazeera is an Iranian tool for incitement against Israel and Arab moderates”.
          Seems that our Arik knows a lot about Middle Eastern politics and (hidden) qatari-Iranian cooperations.

    • Leonid Levin March 16, 2011, 3:53 PM

      Arik, maybe you should start thinking that many decent people in and outside Israel might look at you and your friend Yulik Edelman as a parody of an ambitious, power-hungry immigrant turned ultimate hasbara PR-executive, master in the art of suggestion, manipulation and character poisoning.

      • Richard Silverstein March 16, 2011, 8:29 PM

        Amen to that.

      • y March 16, 2011, 10:03 PM

        Many decent Russian immigrants in israel look at “Israel ba aliah” as a parody as well. I still cant believe someone voted for them

  • MS March 16, 2011, 12:36 PM

    What unites all military correspondents in Israel tv (1-10-2) is their wish to create in the spectator view the impression that they are partners to a big secret. Kind of “I know something that you don’t know and I wont tell you because it is a big secret” The truth is that those who know don’t talk and those who talk don’t know.

  • Ruth March 16, 2011, 7:23 PM

    How about you Deir Yassin, who do you work for? I know you are very active at Nouvelles d’Orient. So you are defending your POV on your dime, 24/7, in a couple of languages and on many blogs and you are not a hasbarista for Palestine? Or do you work for a call center and just sneak in your pearls of wisdom when your boss is not watching? What kind of work allows so much time on the net? Don’t criticize the guy for doing the same thing as you. May be you are also doing it for fun. Besides, Arik is useful as practice, non? I know, your unparallelled debating skills and grasp of facts are no match for the poor sod =:)

    • Richard Silverstein March 16, 2011, 8:23 PM

      A little problem w. yr analogy in that Arik is a paid hasbarist wirking for MFA while Deir Yassin doesn’t work for the PA or any such formal entity.

      She is a valued member of this community who has never hid her identity or commitments.

      I will not allow you to smear her or question her bona fides.

      And if you do then you’ll have to lay yr own personal commitments & paetisan proclivities on the line.

    • Deïr Yassin March 17, 2011, 4:09 AM

      @ Ruth)
      “On many blogs”
      No, you’re wrong, I only blog here, at Nouvelles d’Orient and occasionally another French-speaking blog.
      And I dont think I’m a propagandist (but of course if deconstructing the Zionist narrative is propaganda, then …. ) but if you think so why don’t you challenge my comments instead of only intervening occasionally to criticize people.

      And unfortunately, neither the Popular Front nor Balad have money to pay anyone for blogging. I could of course ask Richard to put in a word next time he’s negotiating his contact with Ahmadinejad …

      Palestine doesn’t need propaganda, the Truth is more than enough, nothing but the Truth and only the Truth.

      • Deïr Yassin March 17, 2011, 4:18 AM

        Erratum: “negociating his CONTRACT”. And I’m sorry for the mayonnaise on the comment. I’m writing during my lunch break.

        • Shai March 17, 2011, 6:03 AM

          There’s nothing in the fridge here, and you’re making me hungry.

          btw, what languages do you speak?

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