– WEAPON SHIP ‘KARIN A’
A ship carrying weapons intended for the Palestinian Authority was captured, on 01/05/2002, in the Red Sea by Israel’s Navy and Air Force (Operation Noah’s Ark). The overtaking of Karin-A took place between Port Sudan and Ras-Muhamed, the Southern edge of Sinai Peninsula and the entrance to the Gulf of Suez in international water. The boat’s cargo included crates of plastic toys for children and, under them, 50 tons of advanced weaponry.
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, ammunition and 21 specially built floating containers. The floating containers were designed by engineers of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. The shipment also included rubber boats and diving equipment, which would have facilitated seaborne attacks from Gaza against coastal cities in Israel.
Since October 2000, Adel Mughrabi, a major buyer in the Palestinian weapons purchasing system, with the assistance of the Palestinian Naval Police Commander Jumaa Ghali and his executive Fathi Ghazem, has been in contact with the Iranians and Hizbullah, through Imad Mughniyah, 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.
An Iraqi, Ali Mohamed Abbas, a middle man of Adel Mughrabi, purchased “Rim K” in Lebanon from a Lebanese company, on 08/31/2001. Colonel Omar Akawi from the Palestinian Naval Police was appointed the commanding officer of the ship.
The ship sailed to Port Sudan where its name was changed to ‘Karin-A’ and was registered under Tonga’s Flag on 09/12/2001. Then, after loading regular cargo, in late 11/2001, the crew was switched and sailed to Hodeida port in Yemen. After four more days in Hudaiba Karin-A sailed to near the Iranian Island of Qeshm, an Iranian Revolutionary Guard base in the Indian Ocean. Near Qeshm Island a ferry boat approached Karin-A, 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 manufactured only in Iran. They were floatable and set with a special configurable system that determines how deep they could be submerged and were prepared by Hizbullah personnel for smuggling to the Palestinian Authority. The ferry team included a Hizbullah trainer, who trained a diver from the ship’s crew, Mohammed Abdel Hadi Kharis, born in 1965 and from Jordanian origin. Mohammed Abdel Hadi Kharis was trained in configuring the floatation devices already earlier in Lebanon. The Hizbullah trainer was present for yet another refreshing training session prior to the sailing. The Palestinian crew got basic instructions and training and left toward Suez Canal on 12/24/2001.
Karin-A had, at first, to divert to Hudeida port in Yemen due to technical problems. After crossing Suez 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.
The capture of the Karin-A, which occurred during the visit of the USA envoy to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, General Anthony Zinni, became a major blow to the legitimacy of Yasser Araft regime in the Palestinian Authority and uncovered the full extent of the Iranian involvement in inflaming the Palestinian Intifada (uprising).
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