Tuesday, July 05, 2011

A brief history of weapons smuggling to Gaza

From the IDF:

May 7th, 2001: Santorini
The Santorini was intercepted on its way from Lebanon to the Gaza Strip. It contained a large shipment of 40 tons of weapons including Strela anti-aircraft missiles—the same kind that terrorists fired at and narrowly missed an Arkia Israeli passenger jet taking off from Mombassa, Kenya in November 2002. The shipment also included mortars, rifles and guns, grenades, mines and explosive material, anti-tank RPG-7 missile-launchers, and artillery rockets.

Three crew members aboard the Santorini were convicted for trying to smuggle weapons from Lebanon to the Gaza Strip—the captain, a professional weapons smuggler and two of his relatives aboard the ships had been involved in three previous smuggling attempts backed by Hezbollah and the PFLP-GC.

The Santorini ship was acquired by the PFLP-GC in a small island off Syria, and registered as Syrian. During previous smuggling attempts by the crew, arms were packed in Syria and transferred to Lebanon by a Syrian bus. Part of the anti-tank weaponry originated from Iran.

January 3rd, 2002: Karin-A
The Karin-A was intercepted in the Red Sea, heading towards the Palestinian Authority in the Gaza Strip. It carried 80 submersible containers containing 50 tons of weapons, including: RPG-7 rockets, RPG-18 anti-tank rocket launchers, Iranian-made anti-tank and anti-personnel mines, 2200 kilograms of high explosive demolition blocks, Sagger anti-tank launchers and missiles, as well as rifles, machine guns, AK-47s, 735 hand grenades, 700,000 rounds of small ammunition, and diving equipment. The submergible containers were to be dropped into the sea and then washed ashore to the Gaza Strip or picked up by a smaller vessel and delivered to the Strip.

The Palestinian Authority was heavily involved in the smuggling attempt, especially Yasser Arafat’s former Chief Financial Officer and confidante at the time, Fuad Shubaki. The crew of the Karin-A also included senior members of the P.A . , indicating Arafat’s direct involvement. The ship was purchased in Lebanon and sailed to Sudan and Yemen to pick up civilian goods (watermelon seeds, sesame seeds, rice, toys, and clothes) to disguise the weapons aboard.

June 8th, 2002
Two Palestinians were found swimming along the northern Gaza Strip shore armed with four grenades, an AK-47, and four ammunition magazines in an attempt to infiltrate an Israeli community.

August 4th, 2002
IDF naval forces identified an armed Palestinian wearing a oxygenated scuba diving suit and carrying an AK-47, 8 grenades, 4 ammunition magazines, who was on his way towards an Israeli community from the Gaza coast.

November 23rd, 2002
After many attempts to communicate with an unknown Palestinian fishing boat heading from the Gaza Strip towards the direction of Israel, the bomb-laden boat exploded near an Israeli security patrol boat, moderately injuring three and lightly injuring one.

January 7th, 2003
A suspicious life raft found floating along the northern Gaza Strip coast was found to be booby-trapped with explosives.

May 21st, 2003: Abu Hasan
The “Abu Hasan”, intercepted in waters west of Haifa, was sailing from Lebanon to Egypt carrying a Hezbollah operative specializing in explosives bound for the Gaza Strip. The boat itself was a fishing boat, used purposefully to disguise its intentions. Cargo contained: a radio-activation system to detonate bombs remotely, CDs of directives on how to carry out suicide bomb terror attacks, five boxes with rocket fuses, and 25 Katyusha rocket detonators. The masterminds of the arms smuggling attempt were connected to Arafat’s Palestinian Authority and Hezbollah.

May 9th, 2006
Early in the morning of Israel’s Independence Day, the Israeli Navy spotted a suspicious vessel crossing from Egypt into the southern Gaza Strip. After ignoring repeated warnings issued by the Navy, the Navy opened fire towards the vessel, whose crew then steered the boat to hide behind a Palestinian civilian boat. The crew was then spotted to be tossing large sacks off the vessel into the water. The Navy ceased fire out of concern that the Palestinian civilian boat would be hit, and the suspicious vessel escaped. The large sacks tossed overboard were later found by an underwater robot to contain over 500 kilograms of explosives.

May 14th, 2006
The Israeli Navy spotted a suspicious Palestinian vessel off the coast of the southern Gaza Strip and issued warnings ordering the crew to stop the vessel. Upon receiving the warnings, the crew began to toss large bags off the ship into the water. The Navy apprehended the vessel and detained the crew for questioning. The bags were later found to contain several hundred kilograms of explosives.

There's lots more.