Ship 'Victoria' - Marinetraffic.com - March 15, 2011
The ship 'Victoria,' which was seized by the Israel Navy on March 15, 2011. Photo by Marinetraffic.com
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IDF Spokesman
Weapons on board the 'Victoria' ship. Photo by IDF Spokesman

The commander of the Iranian army has rejected Israel's claim that a ship it seized on Tuesday was smuggling weapons from Iran to militants in Gaza, the Islamic Republic News Agency reported on Wednesday.

“Israel is a regime made of lie, making lies and fabrications,” Major-General Ataollah Salehi told IRNA. “The Zionist regime will drown in the waters of the Mediterranean Sea, God willing, after the collapse of the Egyptian pharaoh."

Elite troops from the Shayetet 13 naval commando unit took control of the "Victoria" ship without a struggle when it was around 200 nautical miles off Israel's coast, and towed it to the port in Ashdod. The Israel Defense Forces believes the huge weapons cache on board could reach up to reach 50 tons.

Israel says the weapons found on the "Victoria" were smuggled from Iran to Syria, where the ship collected them on its way to Turkey, and then sailed to Egypt. The final destination for the weapons, according to Israel, was Gaza. Israel believes that they were to be used by  militant groups in the strip.

"We are currently collecting information and the one thing that is certain is that the weapons are from Iran with a relay station in Syria," Netanyahu said Tuesday following  the ship's seizure.

Israel Navy Deputy Commander Rani Ben-Yehuda presented a Farsi-language manual for the missiles found among the ship cargo to support the claim that Iran is the source of the weapons.

Ben-Yehuda said he believed that the kind of missiles found Tuesday on the "Victoria" are already in the hands of Hezbollah, but not in the Gaza Strip.