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by John Helmer, Moscow 

Since the start of Israel’s genocide of Gaza, it has been the claim of the Israelis, their lawyers,  and allies that there are no innocent civilians in Gaza, so they say that killing them all is neither a genocide nor a war crime.

Israel’s President Isaac Herzog said it in India in October.   US Congressman Brian Mast said it, following the Israeli lead.    The US Navy analyst who spied for Israel and served half a life in US prison for his treason has declared it in print.   A French-Israeli lawyer has argued the legality on French television.  

The reply the Arab militaries fighting against Israel have made is that there is no innocent oil tanker or container ship moving within missile or drone range of Israel, the Red Sea or the Indian Ocean unless it can prove it. This answer by the Ansar Allah government of Yemen, aka the Houthi military, is that they will attack any vessel which they know to be owned or controlled by Israel through its shipping families, companies, and their cutouts.

As a result, Houthi drone and missile attacks have exposed the elaborate scheme of corporate camouflage and false-flagging which Israel has been employing to conceal the vessel identities  and movement of its international shipping operations. The Anglo-American maritime industry media, privy to these secrets, have not published them. The mainstream western press remains in the dark.

In today’s Gorillla Radio podcast, this isn’t dark any longer. Not genocide in Gaza but money in shipowner pockets is blowing the gaff.

There is much more at stake. The effectiveness of the Houthi ship targeting campaign has so threatened the movement of vital cargoes into and out of Europe that shipping, port, and military officials in France, Italy, Spain, and Greece are now trying to avert a commercial disaster for themselves by arranging secret safe-passage deals with Yemen and Iran in exchange for which they are applying a blockade on Israel’s cargoes, vessels and ports.

This is the secret which is torpedoing the Pentagon’s multinational Red Sea naval escort plan, called OPERATION PROSPERITY GUARDIAN. As the secrecy of Israeli shipping companies spills out, along with the secret dealmaking of the international shipowners with the Houthis,  American shipowners are already complaining bitterly at being cut out of the profits.  “If the main beneficiary of the operation,” editorializes gCaptain of California, a leading US maritime platform, “is one of the largest shipping corporations in the world [Denmark’s Maersk], then there is a question of whose prosperity is Operation Prosperity Guardian truly guarding?”  

Just how accurate is Houthi targeting of concealed Israeli shipping connections?

In the podcast I stumbled over the name of the MSC United VIII. According to its owner Mediterranean Shipping Company, “MSC confirms that on 26 December 2023 the container ship MSC UNITED VIII was attacked while transiting the Red Sea. The vessel informed a nearby coalition task force warship of the attack and as instructed engaged in evasive maneuvers. The incident occurred on 26 December 2023 at approximately 12:25 UTC while the MSC vessel was enroute from King Abdullah Port, Saudi Arabia to Karachi, Pakistan. Currently, all crew are safe with no reported injuries and a thorough assessment of the vessel is being conducted. Our first priority remains protecting the lives and safety of our seafarers, and until their safety can be ensured MSC will continue to reroute vessels booked for Suez transit via the Cape of Good Hope.”  

In its concern for “the lives and safety of our seafarers”, MSC omitted to explain why the company management had decided to expose the vessel, the mariners,  and the cargo by running the Red Sea gauntlet on behalf of the Israeli shipowners, Eyal and Idan Ofer; they are behind the vessel’s operation, and that was the reason for the Houthi attack. Here’s the full story. There’s more — MSC appears to be owned by an Italian family, the Apontes, who established the shipping line in Switzerland in 1970.  In fact, Gianluigi Aponte, the MSC founder, is married to Rafaela Diamant, and she controls half the shares of the company. Diamant is Jewish and comes from Haifa.  The Houthis know this; maritime reporters don’t. 

Left, the container ship MSC United VIII; right, Rafaela Diamant Aponte.  

A similar story of concealed Israeli control and media blackout can be told about the Maersk container vessel,  the Maersk Gibraltar.  This ship was attacked in the Red Sea between December 12 and 14. In the maritime media, it was reported to be Chinese-owned and operated by Maersk. According to the pro-Israel, pro-US Navy source gCaptain, “Maersk Gibraltar is not a remarkable containership for 2023.  She pales at 10,100 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) compared to the ultra-large container vessels (ULCVs) of nearly 24,000 TEUs.  Built in 2016 at Jiangsu Yangzi Xinfu Shipbuilding, the ship is Hong Kong-flagged, owned by Greater China Intermodal Investments, and operated by Maersk Lines of Denmark.  On December 15, 2023, the ship was sailing northbound in the Bab el-Mandeb and entering the Red Sea on a voyage from Salalah, Oman,  to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia when she was the target of attack by the Houthi in Yemen…Between December 12 and 14, two further ships were attacked, along with Maersk Gibraltar, even though Maersk Gibraltar was not Israel-owned or traveling to or from Israel.”   

The Maersk Gibraltar. Source: https://www.marinetraffic.com
After it was diverted from the Red Sea, the vessel sailed south down the east African coast. It is now under way off the west coast of South Africa heading north. Here is the Reuters cover-up version of the Houthi strike;  read more here.

This was calculated deceit.

The Maersk Gibraltar is operated by the Danish Maersk shipping line for the owner listed as Greater China Intermodal Investments (GCI); that entity is listed in Hong Kong and appears to be Chinese. However, in 2018 GCI was acquired by the US corporation, Seaspan, listed on the New York Stock Exchange and controlled by David Sokol, a notorious American business figure.   

What the shipping record reveals is that Seaspan had contracted with the Israeli ZIM shipping company, owned by the Ofer brothers, to build new container vessels and then operate them on long-term charter.   ZIM has said publicly it intends to expand this partnership with Seaspan.  Eli Glickman, ZIM’s chief executive, has acknowledged that with a new fleet order, “we are securing ZIM’s core fleet needed to serve our operations and meet our customers’ growing needs while continuing to maintain our operational agility. Furthermore, this transaction demonstrates our deep commitment to the environment and to reducing our carbon footprint.”   

The Houthis have been following closely. They also appear to have known that in March of this year Sokol arranged to sell out of Seaspan to the Japanese container shipping company, Ocean Network Express (ONE).   That company has made no secret of running several schemes it is calling “Israel shuttle services”.  These conceal the movement of Israeli cargoes and portcalls to Arab ports, such as Damietta in Egypt, and to ports in the Adriatic.   These are details which are no secret to the Houthis. They are being kept secret by Israel’s supporters in the western media.

For the big picture, explaining the reason for the secrecy and cover-up and counting what’s at stake now that the gaff has been blown, listen to today’s podcast as Chris Cook leads the discussion.

Source: https://gradio.substack.com/

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Following the broadcast discussion of the Russian naval deployment map of December 26, fresh news has been published to suggest that at least one of the Israeli Navy’s squadron of three   German-built Sa’ar corvettes  may have broken out of its Eilat base. According to this report, one of these vessels is now at a United Arab Emirates (UAE) base on one of the Socotra archipelago islands east of the Bab el-Mandeb Strait and Gulf of Aden .    

Press reporting of this intention on Israel’s part isn’t new.   A London think tank reported in mid-2023 that “the Israeli Navy and the UAE are partnering to establish a base on Socotra and are reportedly building a military base on the nearby Abdul Kori island.”    The source for the claim was cited as The Middle East Monitor, an Arab source reportedly financed by Qatar and supporting Hamas.    For several years the Arab and Iranian press have been reporting a growing Israeli presence on the Socotra islands, aided by the UAE.

However, the Russian map of naval deployments in the area as of December 26 does not show the Israeli corvette at Socotra. Instead, at the top of the map the Israeli Navy vessels are shown without arrows confirming their deployment,  neither at Eilat nor elsewhere.

Source: https://t.me/infantmilitario/115984  
Click to enlarge and see full map. The island of Socotra is at lower right of the map.

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