Statement by IDF Chief-of-Staff Lt.-Gen. Shaul Mofaz regarding interception of ship Karine A

January 4, 2002

(Communicated by the IDF Spokesman)

Following are remarks by IDF Chief-of-Staff Lt.-Gen. Shaul Mofaz regarding the interception of a ship carrying 50 tons of war materiel destined for the Palestinian Authority:

"With the break of dawn on Thursday, January 3, 2002, IDF forces took control of the ship Karine A, which was carrying about 50 tons of warfare and sabotage equipment, meant to be smuggled into the Palestinian Authority area.

In a daring and complicated mission carried out by navy commando troops, air force pilots and the intelligence, the IDF took control of the ship, which is now in our hands.

This operation, executed about 500 kilometers from the shores of the State of Israel was professional, precise, coordinated, and a complete surprise done without a single casualty.

I would like to emphasize the courage and valor of the commando warriors, who made this mission a success.

On the Karine A, we found about 50 tons of varied warfare, most of it from Iranian origin. From the small part that we checked already, we can tell you that it includes: long range Katyusha rockets, Sagger and LAW anti-tank missiles, mortars, mines, advanced explosive equipment, weapons and sniper rifles, bullets and much more.

It must be emphasized that the smuggling attempt is in direct violation of all existing agreements between the Palestinian Authority and Israel, which clearly state the amount and type of weapons that the PA is permitted to possess. Once again, we see that the PA is not committed to withholding any agreement and is capable of posing a threat through the uses of long range weapons, weapons which have nothing to do with self-defense or law enforcement.

If warfare equipment of this kind had reached the hands of terrorists acting against us, it may have dramatically altered the security of the citizens of the State of Israel and the soldiers of the IDF, and drastically increased the terror activity against us.

This mission is another milestone in our effort to dry the swamp of terror, which exists in the heart of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip. It undoubtedly saved many lives.

The link between the staff aboard the ship and the PA and its leaders is, without a doubt, clear and undeniable. The ship itself is owned by the PA and the captain is a senior officer in the Palestinian naval police.

The smuggling attempt emphasizes, and points directly at the PA’s intentions to continue a strategy of terror and violence, increasing and escalating over time.

The PA is immersed from head to toe with terror and doesn’t understand that in a world after the horrible events of September 11, 2001, they cannot achieve their goals through the use of violence and terror.

This attempt points directly at the close cooperation between the PA, Iran and other terror organizations.

Moreover, the PA claims that its people are in a tough economical situation as a result of the conflict. However, its decision to devote the large financial resources necessary to purchase this warfare equipment shows once again that the PA is using the suffering of its people, in a cynical way, for its own private purposes.

The IDF will continue to fight terror anytime, anyplace and under any conditions. We are not limited to fighting terror in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip. We will strike terror wherever it endangers our safety and security. We will stop and block those who try to hurt us.

We will operate everywhere, at any distance, as far as that distance may be in order to ensure the security of the citizens of the State of Israel.