2009 Sudan airstrikes

In January and February 2009, there was a series of two air strikes in Sudan and one in the Red Sea, allegedly conducted by Israel against Iranian arms being smuggled to the Gaza Strip through Sudan.[1][2] The Israeli government hinted that Israeli forces were involved in the incident.[3][4]

2009 Sudan air raids
DateJanuary–February 2009
Result Israeli Air Force victory
Sudan Sudan Israel Israeli Air Force
Commanders and leaders
Sudan Abdel Rahim Mohammed Hussein Israel Eitan Ben-Eliyahu
Casualties and losses
88-119 dead


Amos Harel, military correspondent for the Israeli daily Haaretz, wrote that the decision to strike in Sudan apparently originated in a belief that Iran was about to inject a significant quantity of arms into Gaza, possibly 70-kilometer-range Fajr-3 rockets. A story in The Sunday Times also reported that the trucks were transporting Fajr-3 rockets, which had been brought by Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps to the Port Sudan and given to local smugglers. The article also stated that the strike was conducted by unmanned Elbit Hermes 450s.[5] However, TIME reported that the strike was F-16s escorted by F-15s and UAVs.[6] On April 8, Yediot Aharonot, quoting an American source, reported that Israeli naval commando (Shayetet 13) forces were involved in the operation, which included an attack on an Iranian arms ship docking in Sudan.[7]

Former IAF commander Eitan Ben-Eliyahu said the main difficulty in such an attack is precise intelligence. Getting to the target requires a flight of about two and a half hours, presumably on a southerly flight path along the Red Sea coast, under the Saudi and Egyptian radar and with aerial refueling.[8]

The incident was first mentioned in mass media by CBS News[9] on March 25. On May 26, Sudanese defense minister Abdel Rahim Mohammed Hussein claimed that the convoy was made up of 1,000 civilians and was involved in "a smuggling process at the border with Egypt". The minister alleged that 119 people were killed; among them were 56 smugglers and 63 smuggled persons from Ethiopian, Somali and other nationalities.[10]


  •   Sudan – Sudanese Foreign Ministry spokesman Ali al-Sadig said: "We are still trying to verify it. Most probably it involved Israel", and added that the convoys were probably smuggling goods, not weapons. He said "it is illegal to infringe the sovereignty of another country".[11] According to another Sudanese source quoted by the al-Jazeera network, in one of the attacks Israel sank a ship carrying weapons.[12]
  •   Israel – Outgoing Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, said in a conference in Herzliya: "We operate everywhere we can hit terrorist infrastructure - in nearby places, in places further away, anywhere we can strike them in a way that increases deterrence. Everyone can use their imagination. Those who need to know, know there is no place where Israel cannot operate. Such a place doesn't exist".[11]
  •   United States – On March 27, Two American officials confirmed that Israeli warplanes bombed a convoy of trucks in Sudan.[13]
  •   Hezbollah – On March 28, Hezbollah released a statement calling on Arab states to denounce the strikes and characterized them as an Israeli crime.[14]
  •   Hamas – Hamas leader Salah al-Bardawil told Agence France-Presse that "First of all we are not sure any convoy has been hit, but it is ironic to link these convoys to Hamas. Should it turn out that there were raids and a high number of people killed, this would mean Israel is seeking to use the opportunity to blame Hamas and hit Sudan".[15]

Further strikesEdit

A land cruiser was struck by a missile in Port Sudan on April 7, 2011. Sudan blamed Israel for the strike, which was reported to have either killed or wounded Abdul Latif Ashkar, Hamas's logistics officer.[16][17] A lengthy article at WRMEA agreed with Sudan about Israel conducting the strike and angrily condemned Israel, but also seemed to undercut Sudanese Foreign Minister Ali Karti's quoted view that Israel conducted the strike to prevent Sudan from being removed from sanctions and isolation related to its previous support for terrorism: a follow-up quote from The Jerusalem Post discussed Iranian arms smuggling to the Gaza Strip, with the article confirming that Hamas was shipping weapons through the Sudan to Hamas, and stated that Israel was attempting to counter Iran's influence in the area (which the article implicitly stated was linked to material support for terrorists).

Some Sudanese newspapers reported that Israeli aircraft attacked Gaza-bound arms convoys in late 2011.[18]

Sudan claimed that on October 23, 2012 four Israeli aircraft attacked a munition factory south of Khartoum.[19]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Exclusive: Three Israeli Airstrikes Against Sudan". ABC News. 2009-03-27. Retrieved 2009-03-28.
  2. ^ "Report: Israel carried out 3 attacks on Sudan arms smugglers". Haaretz. 2009-03-28. Archived from the original on 2009-03-30. Retrieved 2009-03-28.
  3. ^ Wood, Paul (2009-03-26). "Did Israel carry out Sudan strike?". BBC News. Retrieved 2009-12-30.
  4. ^ "Mystery over Sudan 'air strike'". BBC News. 2009-03-26. Retrieved 2009-12-30.
  5. ^ Mahnaimi, Uzi (2009-03-29). "Israeli drones destroy rocket-smuggling convoys in Sudan". London: The Sunday Times. Retrieved 2009-03-29.
  6. ^ "How Israel Foiled an Arms Convoy Bound for Hamas". TIME. 2009-03-30. Retrieved 2009-03-31.
  7. ^ "Report: Naval commando forces involved in Sudan strike". Ynetnews. 2009-04-08. Retrieved 2009-04-08.
  8. ^ Harel, Amos (2009-03-27). "Sudan strike won't make Iran give up on Hamas". Haaretz. Archived from the original on 2009-04-22. Retrieved 2009-03-28.
  9. ^ Raviv, Dan (2009-03-25). "U.S. Accused Of Killing 39 In Sudan Strike". World Watch. CBS News. Retrieved 2009-12-30.
  10. ^ Heavens, Andrew (2009-05-25). "Air strike on Sudan convoy killed 119: state media". Reuters. Retrieved 2009-12-30.
  11. ^ a b "Sudan says Israel 'most probably' behind attack". Haaretz. 2009-03-27. Archived from the original on 2010-02-07. Retrieved 2009-03-28.
  12. ^ "US sources say Israel struck in Sudan". Ynetnews. 2009-03-27. Retrieved 2009-12-30.
  13. ^ Michael R. Gordon and Jeffrey Gettleman (2009-03-26). "U.S. Officials Say Israel Struck in Sudan". New York Times. Retrieved 2021-01-19.
  14. ^ "Hezbollah denounces alleged airstrikes on Sudan". International Herald Tribune. Associated Press. 2009-03-28. Archived from the original on 2012-10-15. Retrieved 2009-03-28.
  15. ^ AFP (2009-03-29). "Sudan says no proof for now Israel behind raids". Ynetnews. Retrieved 2009-03-28.
  16. ^ Report: Hamas logistics officer killed in Sudan air strike
  17. ^ Gaza official: 'Mabhouh heir' survived Sudan hit
  18. ^ Reports in Sudan: Israel struck two weapons convoys in past month
  19. ^ "Khartoum fire blamed on Israeli bombing". Al Jazeera. 25 October 2012. Retrieved 25 October 2012.