It was 5:30 a.m. when the captain of the Klos C, carrying the Panamanian flag, was given the order to stop. He did as instructed and steered his ship toward the fighters of Flotilla 13, Israel's elite naval commandos. They boarded the ship without any resistance using ropes and ladders, and proceeded to inspect the containers on the ship.
Their search and seizure confirmed what they had suspected: The ship contained an arm shipment that was to arrive at the Gaza Strip.
The Israeli Navy Commander Vice Adm. Ram Rothberg soon radioed that the mission had been accomplished. "This is the Israeli Navy commander," Rothberg informed Chief of General Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz. "I can report that the Flotilla 13 fighters uncovered weapon systems from Iran and were able to confirm the existence of the M-302 missile on board. This missile can threaten millions of Israeli citizens. We continue to look for more arms."
And this is how Operation Full Disclosure came to an end, some 930 miles off the cost of Israel. The operation was one of the most complex and daring undertakings the Israeli Navy has conducted in recent memory. It involved a massive intelligence gathering effort. It also required intense and meticulous planning on the part of the commandos and supporting units.
The IDF contingent involved dozens of fighters. Gantz and Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon monitored the operation from the bunker at IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv.
The weapons were originally flown from Syria to Iran. From Iran, they were shipped by boat to Iraq. The shipment was intercepted as it was being moved by boat from Iraq to Sudan, from where the weapons were to have been smuggled overland to Gaza.
Israeli officials decided to greenlight the operation because of the Syrian-made M-302 missiles, which are considered game-changing weapons. Some variants of those missiles can reach 200 kilometers (120 miles).
"The operation had a clear deadline: It had to be carried out before the ship docked at Port Sudan," a senior Israeli Navy officer said on Wednesday. The Israeli Navy's missile boats that carried the commandos passed through the Suez Canal a long time ago and reached the rendezvous point a long time ago.
Just minutes before the Israeli forces raided the ship, Rothberg prepared them for what lies ahead and reflected on the run-up to the operation. "After a period of preparation, planning, training, intelligence gathering and force deployment, we are now entering the interception phase: the seizure and the exposure of the shipment aboard the ship. The people of Israel have faith in you. As the commander of the Israeli Navy, I wish you success."
Brig. Gen. Yaron Levi, a senior Israeli Navy officer, said the operation required a high level of sophistication, professionalism and a great amount of determination and leadership. "We sent a massive contingent, we had a forceful presence and we managed to carry out this mission with great honor."