January 4, 2002
©2002 IDF Spokesman
Weapons seized on the Karine A
A ship carrying weapons intended for the Palestinian Authority was captured in the Red Sea by Israel’s Navy and Air Force. The boat’s cargo included 50 tons of advanced weaponry including Katyusha rockets, rifles, mortar shells, mines and a variety of anti-tank missiles. Senior figures in the Palestinian Authority were involved in the smuggling.
Communicated by the IDF Spokesman:
On January 3rd, the Israeli Navy seized control over the Karine A ship that was sailing in international waters on its way to the Suez Canal.
The shipment included both 122 mm. and 107 mm. Katyusha rockets, which have ranges of 20 and 8 kilometers respectively. It also contained 80 mm. and 120 mm. mortar shells, various types of anti-tank missiles, anti-tank mines, sniper rifles, Kalashnikov rifles and ammunition. From Gaza, the 122 mm. Katyushas could have threatened Ashkelon and other coastal cities; while from the West Bank, Ben-Gurion International Airport and several major Israeli cities would have been within their range. The shipment also included rubber boats and diving equipment, which would have facilitated seaborne attacks from Gaza against coastal cities.
Preliminary investigation of the crew members has revealed so far that the commanding officer of the ship is Colonel Omar Akawi. The ship was purchased by the Palestinian Authority, loaded with weapons by the Iranians and the Hizbullah, manned by Palestinian Authority personnel, with the aim of transfering the weapons it carried to the Palestinian Naval Police near the Gaza beaches.
Since October 2000, Adel Mughrabi, a major buyer in the Palestinian weapons purchasing system (with the assistance of the Palestinian Naval Police Commander Juma’a Ghali and his executive Fathi Ghazem), has been in contact with the Iranians and Hizbullah regarding a vast weapons smuggling operation for the use of the Palestinian Authority. This operation included the testing and purchase of ships, forming a sailing crew and appointing a commander for the team, as well as making arrangements as to how the weapons would be stored, loaded onto the vessels, and its journey until delivery to the Palestinian Authority.
Preliminary investigation of the team members arrested revealed that the Karine A ship was purchased by Adel Mughrabi in Lebanon, sailed to Sudan where it was loaded with regular cargo. The crew was then switched with the team members and in November 2001 sailed to Hodeida port in Yemen.
In December 2001 the ship sailed according to detailed instructions from Adel Mughrabi to the beaches of Iran near Qeshm Island. There a ferry approached it, most likely arriving from Iran, from which the weapons stored in 80 large wooden crates were transferred and loaded onto the ship. These weapons were stored in special waterproof containers produced only in Iran, which are floatable and are set with a special configurable system that determines how deep they are submerged, were prepared by Hizbullah personnel for smuggling to the Palestinian Authority. Included in the ferry team which transferred the weapons crates to the ship was also a Lebanese trainer, a Hizbullah operative who trained a diver from the ship’s crew in configuring the floatation devices in Lebanon. The trainer was present for yet another refreshing training session prior to the sailing.
After completing the loading process of the weapons onto the ship, the ship had to divert to Hodeida port in Yemen due to technical problems. After crossing the canal, the ship was supposed to meet with three smaller ships that were purchased in advance and to unload the weapons onto them. According to the plan, the smaller ships were to leave the weapons near El Arish in Gaza, where the weapons were to be taken by the commander of the Palestinian Naval Police Juma’a Ghali and his executive Fathi Ghazem.
Statement by IDF Chief-of-Staff Lt.-Gen. Shaul Mofaz regarding interception of ship Karine A – Jan 4, 2002
Reaction of FM Peres to seizing of the Karine A – Jan 4, 2002
Address by PM Sharon following the seizing of the ship Karine A – Jan 6, 2002
DM Ben-Eliezer: PA invests in terrorism, not welfare of Palestinian people – Jan 6, 2002
DM Ben-Eliezer to Solana and Moratinos: Karine A managed and funded by Palestinian Authority in cooperation with Iran – Jan 7, 2002
U.S. Seeks Explanation from Arafat about Arms Smuggling – U.S. State Department, Jan 11, 2002
Prison interview with Palestinian ship captain smuggling 50 tons of weapons (Fox News) – Jan 7, 2002