Another disturbing development is being reported in the current Gaza offensive against Israel which will raise the stakes for Israel even more. A 150-ton freighter bound for Gaza left Iran’s Bandar Abbas port Sunday with a cargo of 220 short-range missiles and 50 improved long-range Fajr-5 rockets, according to DEBKAfile intelligence sources. Fajr (sometimes spelled Fajer or Fajar) rockets are the types of rockets that have reached Tel Aviv. Fajr-5 rockets are as long as a telephone poles and typically have a range of 75 kilometers, however, Hamas has lightened the rockets’ payload, ensuring its range stretches to 85 kilometers.
Iran first supplied the Hezbollah with its Fajr rockets during Lebanon’s 2006 war with Israel. Hezbollah militants were able to reach parts of Israel never before accessed with previous rockets. In fact, the Fajr-5 were the longest range rockets of its kind ever launched at Israel from Lebanon. Now, as Operation Pillar of Defense is under way, Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad have launched a series of Fajr-5 rockets towards Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and are now poised to receive a fresh, improved shipment of these deadly long-range rockets.
DEBKA reports that the Iranian freighter carrying this new shipment of Fajr-5s turned toward the Bab al-Mandeb Straits and the Red Sea. These new and improved Fajrs reportedly have a 200-kilo warhead, which has the capacity to deliver a far more powerful blast than its 175 kilo-predecessor. DEBKA explains how, in an attempt to trick Israeli surveillance, Iran obfuscated the freighter’s origin by renaming it from “Vali-e Asr” owned by the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Linesto “Cargo Star” bearing the flag of Tuvalu, a Polynesian island in the South Pacific which Iran largely subsidizes.
According to DEBKA, Prime Minister of Tuvalu, Willy Telavi, agreed to register Iran’s entire tanker fleet of 22 vessels to the tiny island in an effort to help the Islamic Republic skirt the U.S. oil embargo. DEBKA adds that, for most of the journey, the freighter was escorted by two Iranian warships, the Khark and the Shahid Naqdi, which are both permanently stationed in the Red Sea. DEBKA adds: