March 25, 2009 (WASHINGTON) — An airstrike that targeted a convoy of arm smugglers inside Sudan last January was launched by Israeli planes and not American ones, according to a US television network.
- An Israeli Air Force fighter plane releases flares during an aerobatics display at a graduation ceremony for new pilots at the Hatzerim Air Force Base near the southern Israeli city of Beersheba (AP)
Yesterday a Sudanese government official said that a “major power bombed small trucks carrying arms” Northwest of Port Sudan city killing Sudanese, Eritreans and Ethiopians passengers.
An Egyptian newspaper had reported this week that US planes destroyed a convoy heading towards the borders carrying arms believed to be on its way to Gaza strip.
It also quoted an unidentified Egyptian official as suggesting that the planes flew from US bases in Djibouti.
However CBS news quoting unidentified US officials disputed the report about US involvement in the operation.
CBS News national security correspondent who covers the Pentagon was told by those officials that “Israeli aircraft carried out the attack”.
“Israeli intelligence is said to have discovered that weapons were being trucked through Sudan, heading north toward Egypt, whereupon they would cross the Sinai Desert and be smuggled into Hamas-held territory in Gaza” the officials said.
However the officials did not say whether they provided any assistance to the operation or if they were notified before it took place.
In Tel Aviv Israeli offcials speaking to Haartez newspaper refused to comment on the report of an air strike in Sudan or on the role that Israel may have played in that attack.
However Haartez said that Israeli defense sources reiterated on a number of occasions that Iran embarked on an intensive effort to supply Hamas with weapons and ammunition during Operation Cast Lead.
Hamas Islamic group is in control of the Gaza strip.
In Cairo the Sudanese foreign minister Deng Alor told reporters that he has no information on any airstrikes conducted in Eastern Sudan.
The US signed an agreement with Israel last January that calls for an international effort to stem the flow of weaponry and explosives to complement those of Egypt.
American and Israeli diplomats said at the time the agreement includes intelligence coordination to prevent arms from Iran from entering Gaza, maritime efforts to identify ships carrying weaponry, and the sharing of US and European technologies to discover and prevent the use of weapons-smuggling tunnels.
The convoy is believed to have consisted of 17 trucks carrying 39 passengers that were all destroyed in the operation. None of the people on board the trucks survived the attack.
Israeli officials in the past have said that arms are funneled into Sudan and then to Sinai, where they pass through the tunnels into Gaza.