Israeli fighter-bombers, backed by unmanned drones, were responsible for a mid-January attack on a 23-truck convoy in the Sudanese desert carrying arms to Hamas militants, two highly placed Israeli security sources revealed to TIME. The attack was a warning to Iran and other adversaries, showing Israel’s intelligence capability and its willingness to mount operations far beyond its borders in order to defend itself from gathering threats.
During the 1,750-mile (2,800 km) journey to Sudan and back, the Israeli aircraft refueled in midair over the Red Sea.
The bombing raid came after an intelligence tip-off. In early January, at the height of Israel’s assault on Gaza, Israel’s foreign-intelligence agency, Mossad, was told by an informant that Iran was planning a major delivery of 120 tons of arms and explosives to Gaza, including antitank rockets and Fajir rockets with a 25-mile (40 km) range and a 99-lb. (45 kg) warhead. With little time to plan the operation, naval vessels and helicopters were rushed to the Red Sea in case Israel had to rescue a downed pilot, and the plan was hurried through. “The Israelis had less than a week to pull this all together,” a source said.