Sudanese officials blamed Israel last Wednesday (Oct. 24) for an airstrike on a munitions factory in the capital city of Khartoum which left two dead in the fiery explosion.
Ahmed Belal Osman, the Sudanese Minister of Information, told reporters that the aircraft hit the Yarmouk complex, setting off a huge blast before dawn. “Four planes coming from the east bombed the Yarmouk industrial complex,” Mr. Belal said. “They used sophisticated technology.” He did not elaborate. Osman referred to a 2009 attack on an arms convoy in Red Sea State in eastern Sudan, for which his government also blamed Israel.
“We are now certain that this flagrant attack was authorized by the same state of Israel,” he said. “The main purpose is to frustrate our military capabilities and stop any development there and ultimately weaken our national sovereignty. Sudan reserves the right to strike back at Israel.”
Around 300 people gathered at the courtyard of a government building where the Sudanese cabinet was in an emergency meeting, shouting “Death to Israel” and “Remove Israel from the map.”
A spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces declined to comment on the accusation. At the news conference, a military spokesman, Sawarmy Khaled, said two people were killed and one was seriously injured in the blast. Earlier, officials said some people suffered smoke inhalation.
Abdelgadir Mohammed, 31, who lives nearby, said he and his brother heard a loud roar and left their house around midnight to check it out. “At first we thought it was more than one plane,” he said. “Then we thought it was a plane crashing because of how sharp the sound was. Then we saw a flash of light, and after it came a really loud sound. It was an explosion.”
On social media web sites, Sudanese criticized the government for placing a factory with such large quantities of ammunition in a residential area.
In 2009, a convoy carrying weapons in northeastern Sudan was targeted from the air, killing dozens. It is widely believed that Israel carried out the attack, hitting a weapons shipment headed for Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip. Sudanese parliamentarians denied that weapons were transported in the area, and Israel never confirmed or denied that it was responsible for that attack.
For years now, speculation has grown about a shadow war being fought by Israel against Sudan, which analysts say is being funded and supported by Iran as an arms smuggling route to the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip via neighboring Egypt. Citing both Israeli and Western security sources, the British Sunday Times published a detailed report on the alleged Israeli attack on an Iranian run arms factory in Sudan’s capital.
According to the paper, the attack was carried out in the early hours on Wednesday by four two-seater F-15I “Ra’am” fighter-bombers, each carrying two one-ton bombs and accompanied by four additional F-15s providing air-cover in case Sudanese MiG-29 fighters attempted to intercept. Along with the fighters were two CH-53 “Yasur” helicopters carrying teams of Israeli Air Force search-and-rescue commandos in case air-crew from a downed fighter needed extracting from enemy territory.
The fighters were refueled en-route by a Boeing 707 “Re’em” aerial tanker and a Gulfstream 550 “Shavit” executive, adapted for electronic warfare, which jammed the Sudanese radar and air-defense systems. According to the report, the fighters took off from a Negev airbase and flew for four hours over the Red Sea on a round route of 3,900 kilometers.
The newspaper reports that during the assassination of senior Hamas operative Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai two years ago, Mossad operatives obtained a signed agreement between Iran and Sudan regarding the manufacture of arms in Sudan under the supervision of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards. According to the report, the operation was carried out under the direct supervision of IAF Commander Major General Amir Eshel and was planned over a long period which included two long-range exercises. Eshel and IDF Chief of Staff, Lieutenant General Benny Gantz, supervised the mission from an IAF command post at the Kirya in Tel Aviv and updated Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu upon completion. The U.S. administration received advance notification and the American embassy in Khartoum was closed as a precaution.
According to a “military source” quoted in the report, two central challenges in the attack were to evade detection by Egyptian radar and air-traffic control in neighboring Djibouti. The jamming and evasive tactics seemed to have proven successful, as no Sudanese fighters were launched against the attackers.
Detailed evidence of Israel’s efforts to block arms shipments to Hamas in Gaza and to Hezbollah in Lebanon surfaced in WikiLeaks documents that were originally published by The Guardian newspaper of London. The clandestine documents demonstrated that Sudan was warned by the U.S. in January 2009 not to allow the delivery of unspecified Iranian arms that were expected to be passed to Hamas in Gaza around the time of Israel’s Cast Lead offensive.
In 1998, Human Rights Watch published a report based on information from Sudanese opposition organizations which said that the Yarmouk plant was used to store chemical weapons for Iraq. Sudan vehemently denied the allegations. That year, the United States used cruise missiles to bomb a Khartoum pharmaceutical factory suspected of links to al-Qaeda in the aftermath of the terror group’s bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania which left 224 people dead. Sudan has been a major hub for al-Qaeda militants and a transit for weapon smugglers and African migrant traffickers.
Meanwhile, Sudan’s UN Ambassador Daffa-Alla Elhag Ali Osman called on the UN Security Council to condemn the recent attack “because it is a blatant violation of the concept of peace and security.”
“It jeopardizes peace and security in the entire region, not just in Sudan,” he told the council during a briefing on UN peacekeepers in Darfur. “We call on you to stop foreign hands from meddling in the Darfur conflict and to help Sudan arrive at a final solution that would maintain peace and security.”