Operation Noah's Ark

Operation Noah's Ark

operational plan
name = Noah's Ark

caption = Military equipment confiscated from Karine A
scope =
planned =
planned_by = Israeli Sea Corps
objective = Seize freighter Karine A
executed = 3 January 2002
executed_by = Shayetet 13
outcome = Success

Operation Noah's Ark ( _he. מבצע תיבת נוח, "Mivtza Teyvat Noah") was an Israeli military action in January 2002 in which they seized Karine A, a Palestinian freighter in the Red Sea. The vessel was found to be carrying 50 tons of weapons, including twelve-mile-range Katyusha rockets, antitank missiles, and high explosives.

The shipment

The ship itself was worth an estimated $400,000, the civilian cargo used to conceal the weapons approximately $3,000,000, and the weapons were estimated at a value of approximately $15,000,000. The equipment included Katyusha rockets, mortars, sniper rifles, bullets, anti-tank mines, anti-tank missiles, as well as over two and a half tons of pure explosives. Maj. Gen. Yedidya Yaari, the commander of the Israeli Navy, reported that they were packed in 83 crates in waterproof plastic and attached to buoys, to permit their drop-off and retrieval at sea.

The captain of the vessel was Omar Akawi, a Fatah activist since 1976 and former member of the Palestinian Authority. According to the Beirut newspaper "The Daily Star", the alleged purchaser of the weapons, Adel Salameh (aka Adel 'Moghrabi`) was a former member of Yassir Arafat's staff until the early 1980's "when he was dismissed for conducting private business which conflicted with his official status".

According to Lloyd's List, which tracks worldwide shipping records, the ship belongs to Iraqi Ali Mohammed Abbas, who purchased it on August 31 2001 from a Lebanese company. It was renamed from "Rim K" to "Karine A" when it was registered in Tonga on September 12. Tonga has confirmed that Abbas is still the owner of the ship.Cite news
title = Weapons ship mystery deepens
work = BBC
accessdate = 2008-06-26
date = 2002-01-10
url = http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/1753233.stm

The interception

The mission began at 04:45 of 3 January 2002 in the Red Sea, 300 miles from Israel. Israeli Navy commandos, backed by combat helicopters and aircraft, surprised the crew and took over the vessel without firing a single bullet. The ship was taken to Eilat the night of January 4.Cite web
title = IDF Seizes PA Weapons Ship: The Karine A Affair
work = Jewish Virtual Library
accessdate = 2008-06-26
url = http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Peace/paship.html

Lieutenant General Shaul Mofaz, chief of staff of the Israeli Army, announced in a Tel Aviv news conference on January 4 that the army had seized the ship while General Anthony Zinni was meeting with Yasser Arafat to promote negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.


Israel and the United States alleged Hezbollah had some link to the Palestinian weapons ship seized by Israel. Three Hezbollah members arrested in Jordan were attempting to smuggle Katyusha rockets to the Palestinians (the detainees were later freed by the Jordanians at the request of the Lebanese government). Another fishing vessel carrying weapons to the Palestinians was sunk off the Lebanese coast by Israel in May 2002. Israel charged that the weapons and military cargo were purchased with the help of Hezbollah. Hezbollah rejected accusations of involvement in arms shipment. [ [http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/russia/katyusha.htm Katyusha Rocket] Global Security] Israeli reports stated that the ship, purchased from Lebanon, had loaded weapons at the Iranian island of Kish in the middle of the night off the coast of Iran. It had then sailed through the Gulf of Oman, the Arabian Sea, the Gulf of Aden, and the Red Sea. [ [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9E0DE7D61F39F931A25752C0A9649C8B63&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=all Seized Arms Would Have Vastly Extended Arafat Arsenal - New York Times ] ]

Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat however, denied any involvement. While the IDF maintains that the weapons were bound for the PA, other sources have suggested that the weapons may instead have been headed to Lebanon for the use of the Islamic militant group Hezbollah. [http://www.guardian.co.uk/elsewhere/journalist/story/0,7792,636887,00.html The Strange Affair of Karine-A] , Brian Whitaker, Guardian Unlimited, January 21 2002.] However, the New York Times called Arafat's denial, "implausible." [ Arafat's Implausible Denials , January 10, 2002, New York Times, [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=990DE6DC1039F933A25752C0A9649C8B63] ] Some academics, such as Matthew Levitt, [ Hamas: Politics, Charity, and Terrorism in the Service of Jihad, by Page 176by Matthew Levitt, 2006, p. 176 ] Anthony Cordesman [ The Israeli-Palestinian War: Escalating to Nowhere ,by Anthony H. Cordesman 2005, p. 277 ] and Efraim Karsh [ Arafat's War: The Man and His Battle for Israeli Conquest , by Efraim Karsh, 2004, p. 236 ] have also supported the view that the ship was smuggling Iranian weapons to the Palestinian Authority.

Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak questioned the idea that an unidentified ship carrying illegal arms could travel through a waterway in which the US routinely monitors and boards ships looking for smuggled Iraqi oil and goods, through the Red Sea, and through water monitored by Egypt and Saudi Arabia on the approach to the Suez Canal. He also questioned the plausibility of a plan to pass through inspections at the Suez canal and make it to Gaza (where Palestinian fishermen would bring it in) to then offload 50 tons of weapons. Fact|date=July 2007


External links

* [http://www.mfa.gov.il/mfa/go.asp?MFAH0l0k0 Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs briefing]
* [http://www.waronline.org/en/analysis/pal_weapons.htm Weapons Found on 'Karine-A' and 'Santorini']

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