The second attack, according to the newspaper, took place last Sunday, hitting a Toyota and killing everyone in it. The people in the car, however, were reported to be "gold seekers" and not arms smugglers.
Another local report on the attacks, appearing in the Sudanese Al-Rakoba newspaper, claimed that Israel Defense Force soldiers onboard two Israeli Apache helicopters disembarked on an island off the coast of Sudan, wandered around the island, and then left on the helicopters without Sudanese security forces being able to intercept them. In contrast to the Al-Intibaha report, Al-Rakoba claimed that the attacks occurred in late November.
The same report also noted that Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir remarked that his country could not protect its own soldiers and he asked Egypt to help monitor any Israeli incursions into Sudanese territory
The Sudanese newspapers said the targeted vehicles were travelling on a path known to be a Hamas smuggling route: from Port Sudan, where ships carrying weapons from Iran are unloaded, continuing along a western route heading to Egypt and into the Sinai Peninsula, and finally entering the Gaza Strip.
Despite the detailed report, Sudanese government officials were quick to deny penetration of Sudanese airspace by foreign elements. The Sudanese army spokesman also claimed that he had no information regarding such an attack, calling the reports "rumors."
While there was no official Israeli response to Sunday's Sudanese report, defense officials have, for some time, been closely monitoring the Iran-Hamas smuggling route which routinely passes through Sudan.
The weapons shipments apparently embark from the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas, strategically located on the Strait of Hormuz, and continue with infrequent stops along the way until they are met by smaller boats, which take them to the Sudanese coast. At the coast, the weapons are loaded onto trucks and freight vehicles that transport them to the Egyptian border. The Sudanese convoy then crosses the border into Egypt, from where the weapons are reloaded into vehicles that travel by land or sea to the Sinai Peninsula. From the Sinai, the weapons travel a short distance to the Gaza Strip by means of the smuggling tunnels located along the Philadelphi Route.
The revolution in Egypt, which rendered the interim ruling government in Cairo weak, coupled with the Israeli government's reluctance to attack within Egyptian sovereign territory and the fact that the Iranians believe it is difficult for Israel to follow the winding smuggling route, have all contributed to increasing creativity on the part of the Israelis when it comes to combating arms smuggling.
This is not the first time Israel has been suspected of attacking weapons convoys in eastern Sudan. In April, reports coming out of the east African nation said an unmanned aerial vehicle fired missiles onto a vehicle carrying two people that was traveling near Port Sudan. According to local media reports, the UAV entered Sudan's air space from over the Red Sea and struck the vehicle, which went up in flames and killed the two passengers.
Arab sources claimed at the time that one of the two people traveling in the car was probably a senior Hamas official in charge of smuggling weapons for the organization from Iran via Sudan and Egypt. It was also speculated that the official had replaced Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, another senior Hamas official who was assassinated in Dubai in January 2010. The government in Dubai has accused the Mossad of being behind that assassination.
Not long after the April 2011 attack, Sudan accused Israel of being involved in the incident and claimed that, during a search of the torched vehicle, remains were found of a missile of the AGM-114L Hellfire type - known to be used by Israel and the U.S. for targeted killings - which was shot by an Apache helicopter.
In 2009, the U.S. television network CBS reported for the first time that in January of that year, Israel attacked a convoy of trucks near Port Sudan that was carrying weapons sent by Iran to Hamas. According to the report, two Israeli fighter jets or two UAVs bombed the convoy which was travelling in a desert area, northward toward Egypt. The strike reportedly killed 40 people.
Additionally, there were reports in 2009 that Israel's elite naval commando unit, Shayetet 13, attacked an Iranian arms ship which was docked in Port Sudan.
In Israel, meanwhile, officials have remained mum on the latest Sudanese reports, although it is clear that the sources behind the attack wanted to prevent the Sudanese vehicles from reaching their destination.