Report: US hiring merchant ship for massive arms shipment to Israel
Date: 10 / 01 / 2009 Time: 16:40
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Bethlehem – Ma’an/Agencies – The US is seeking to hire a merchant ship to deliver some 300 tons of weapons to Israel from Greece later this month, Rueters news agency reported on Friday.

Tender documents seen by Reuters show that the US Navy sought to ship 325 20-foot containers of what is listed as “ammunition” in two separate voyages from the Greek port of Astakos to the Israeli port of Ashdod.

A "hazardous material" designation on the manifest mentions explosive substances and detonators.

"Shipping 3,000-odd tons of ammunition in one go is a lot," one broker told Rueters, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"This [kind of request] is pretty rare and we haven't seen much of it quoted in the market over the years," he added.

The US Defense Department had no immediate comment.

The request for the ship was made on 31 December with the first leg of the charter to arrive no later than 25 January and the second at the end of the month.

The tender for the vessel follows the hiring of a commercial ship to carry a much larger shipment of arms in December from the United States to Israel ahead of the first wave of airstrikes on the Gaza Strip.

Shipping brokers in London who have specialized in moving arms for the British and US military in the past said such ship charters to Israel were rare.