Last updated: 20/07/02
Authors: Kirill, Oleg
Translated by Noam Primak
Weapons Found on 'Karine-A' and 'Santorini'
Notre: The article was originally written shortly after the
capture of the ship Karin-A, however it is still very relevant,
since it provides considerable information about the weapons
the Palestinian terrorists could have accumulated in the Gaza
On 6 May 2001 an IAF aircraft on routine
patrol over the Mediterranean, spotted a suspicious vessel,
named 'Santorini'. Two 'Dabur' patrol craft were sent to intercept
the small (length 25 m, displacement 40 tonnes) ship, followed
by two missile boats.
The missile boats intercepted the vessel in international waters,
some tens of miles from the Israeli coast. Their crews noticed
on the 'Santorini's deck a large number of plastic barrels of
different sizes. A marine commando contingent of the IDF Navy's
Flotilla-13 ('Shayetet-13', Israel's naval special forces unit)
proceeded to board the vessel. The four crewmen aboard the 'Santorini'
did not attempt to resist the takeover. Upon inspection, the
boarding party found the barrels filled with weaponry. The vessel
was escorted to port at Haifa.
The investigation that followed revealed that the shipment
had been purchased by Ahmed Jibril's Popular Front for the Liberation
of Palestine - General Command (PFLP-GC). Its value, including
the price of the contraband delivery, was estimated at $10 million.
The smugglers, who departed with the cargo from Tripoli, Lybia,
were tasked with unloading the barrels-carefully sealed and
waterproofed along with their contents-at a prearranged location
off the Gaza coast, where they would be picked up by Palestinian
Authority (PA) representatives.
The next day, 7 May 01, at 8:00 pm local time, a press conference
was held on the matter in Haifa, with the participation of the
Minister of Defense, Binyamin Ben-Eliezer and commander-in-chief
of the IDF Navy, Maj-Gen.Yedidia Yaari. The latter denied any
knowledge of recent attempts at smuggling contraband by sea.
By the next day, however, the interrogation of the suspects
revealed that they had made three such attempts in the past,
two of which were successful.
Eight months later, on the morning of 2
Jan 02 a squadron of 'Dvora' patrol craft (and possibly 'Dabur'
boats) and fast attack boats of Flotilla-13 departed Eilat.
This time the operation-code-named 'Noah's Ark'-was planned
well in advance. The task was the takeover of the weapons-laden
'Karine A'. The actual interception was preceded by months of
intelligence activity, code-named Operation Milk and Honey ('khalav
The patrol vessels are too small to carry the commando boats
on board, so the latter traveled the entire distance covered
in the operation on their own power, refueling several times
from the patrol craft. The takeover of the 'Karine-A', which
Flotilla-13 personnel executed in 8 minutes without firing a
shot, occurred on the night of 3-4 Jan in international waters
on the Red Sea, between Egypt and Saudi Arabia, about 500 km
from Eilat. Part of the contingent was fast-roped onto the vessel
from helicopters, while the rest boarded from the speedboats.
The takeover and escort of the 'Karine-A' back to Eilat was
supported by IAF attack helicopters. The operation was 0commanded
from an aerial platform by Brig-Gen ('tat-aluf') Eli Merom,
chief of naval operations ('mispen yam'), with IDF chief-of-staff
Lt-Gen ('rav-aluf') Shaul Mofaz also on board. 'Karine-A' arrived
in Eilat the evening of 4 Jan 02, the entire operation completed
in less than 60 hours.
The same day, at 14:00, the IDF held a press conference (Shaul
Mofaz, Yedidia Yaari, IAF commander-in-chief Maj-Gen (Aluf)
Dan Halutz, and IDF spokesman Brig-Gen (Tat-Aluf) Ron Kitrey
participating) making public the Karine-A's takeover. The first
photos (taken while the ship was still at sea) of the deadly
cargo were released. Two days later, on 6 Jan 02 at 17:00, another
press conference, this time with the Prime Minister and Defence
Minister attending, was held at Eilat naval base. The captured
armaments were made available for the inspection of foreign
military attaches, diplomatic officials and reporters.
This time the "catch" was more substantial: over
50 tonnes (up to 70-80 T) of arms and ammunition. It was to
have been delivered by 'Karine-A' (length 97.4m, disp.4000 T,
constructed 1979) through the Suez Canal to the Mediterranean
off the Egyptian port of Alexandria, where it would be picked
up and reloaded onto smaller craft. These were to deliver the
payload, packed in 80 (83 according to certain sources) watertight
containers, to the Gaza coast. A typical fishing vessel is capable
of towing several such containers, with the added advantage
that the containers in the rear would remain underwater. If
the fishing boat were spotted by an Israeli patrol, the containers
could be released and relocated later (with floating markers).
The weaponry was hidden under a layer of civilian cargo (clothing,
mattresses, suitcases, electronics, etc.)
The captain of the Karine-A was Omar Ashawi, a FATAH activist
since 1976, Lt-Col in the PA's "Naval Police", and
its adviser on maritime affairs. Several other members of the
Karine-A's crew were "Naval Police" officers; the
rest were Egyptian sailors, who may or may not have not known
of the contraband aboard. Ashawi's interrogation revealed that
the vessel had been purchased by Adal Mugrabi, a representative
of the PA. According to Ashawi, the deputy commander of the
"Naval Police", Fatkhi Gazem, and the PA's finance
Fuad Shubaki, also participated in the operation, the latter
charged with making payment for the cargo. The ship's last run
took it from the Jordanian port of Aqaba (neighboring Eilat)
on 24 Sep 01, to an Iranian island in the Persian Gulf, where
its cargo was loaded.
Further investigation revealed that the arms were purchased
through Iran's so-called "Export Committee of the Islamic
Revolution" for $15 million. Payment was delivered via
Lebanon through Hizballah middlemen. The civilian cargo used
to smuggle the contraband was worth about $3 million, the ship
itself about $400,000.
It has been reported that the IDF will make use of part of
the confiscated materials (including sniper weapons and explosives)
and destroy the rest. The vessel may be used by the IDF Navy
for training purposes (but its mechanical condition was deemed
|Armaments and Ammunition :
|'Strela -2' man-portable air defense system
|'Ìalyutka' (ÀÒ-3 'Sagger') anti-tank guided
missile (ATGM) launchers
|'Ìàlyutka' (AT-3 'Sagger') ATGM
|107mm unguided rocket launchers
|107mm unguided rockets, incl.fuses
|122mm unguided rocket launchers
|122mm unguided rockets, incl.fuses
|60mm mortar rounds
|81mm mortar rounds
|120mm mortar rounds
|RPG-18 single-use anti-tank rocket launchers
|RPG-7 anti-tank grenade launchers
51 ( "Ñàãåã")
|RPG-7 aiming sights
|PG-7 AT grenades for RPG-7
|Tandem AT grenades for RPG-7
|ÎG-7 fragmentation grenades for RPG-7
|Rocket motors for ÎG-7 and PG-7
|RPG-3 anti-tank grenades
| Fragmentation hand grenades
|ÒÌÀ-5 anti-tank mines
|ÒÌÀ-3 anti-tank mines
|YM-III anti-tank mines
|YM-I anti-tank mine
|7.62mm AK-47/AKM assault rifles
|30-round magazines for above
|7.62x39mm rounds for AK-47/AKM
|7.62x54mm SVD sniper rifles + optics
|7.62x54mm PK machine guns (with spare
|7.62x54mm rounds for PK and SVD
|C4 and TNT
|'Zodiac' inflatable rubber boats (with
25 HP motors)
Additional notes on Karine-A cargo:
- The shipment was so large that various items, such as RPG-7
rocket motors and AK magazines were not counted.
- A large part of the weaponry (mortars, anti-tank rockets,
RPG-7 and motors) is of Iranian manufacture
- In addition to the Zodiac boats, a substantial quantity
of diving equipment was present (diving suits, aqualungs,
- All mortar rounds and unguided rockets have impact fuse*
- All mortars and unguided rocket launchers were complete
with aiming sights.
- In addition to the fuses in the mines, grenades, and rockets,
the cargo included a large quantity of electric and mechanical
fuse mechanisms of various types.
"Arash". Analog to BM-21 'Grad', Iranian
Range: 20.75 km
Weight of rocket: 66.4kg
Warhead (WH): 19.18kg, high-explosive (HE)/fragmentation. Includes
Copy of 'Grad' MLRS produced in China, Egypt, Rumania, South
Africa, Iraq and Iran ('Àrash'). Iranian variant is truck-mounted,
with up to 30 launch tubes depending on model. Hizballah makes
use of lighter trucks with 10 launch tubes, and of single launch
tubes analogous to the Soviet 9K132 'Grad-P' ('Partisan') system.
Launchers intended for delivery to the PA were of the latter
Range depends on variant and warhead; data above is for BM-21OF
(most common variant). Rocket is stabilized in flight by rotation
and stabilizer fins, which open after launch.
"Haseb", Iranian manufacture, Chinese 'Type-63' MRL
Caliber: 107 mm
Range: 8.5 km
Wt. of rocket: 18kg
WH: 6.4 kg, HE/frag. Includes 1.3kg HE.
Above caliber is not used in former USSR/Russia; launchers are
manufactured in China ('Type-63'), Taiwan, S.Africa and Iran
('Haseb'). Employed as MLRS (12 launchers) by regular armed
forces, mounted on a vehicle (truck, jeep) or trailer. Israel
captured a substantial quantity (along with the heavier, longer-range
122 mm 'Grad') during the 1982 Lebanon War. In-flight stabilization
of the unguided projectile is accomplished via rotation imparted
by the attitude of the rocket engine's nozzles. It has a relatively
short range (8.5km) and small warhead, though this is fully
sufficient for its use as a terror weapon-from the Gaza Strip
the rockets can reach the southern part of Ashkelon. Terrorists
would be able to use the single-tube '63-I' (mobile, with tripod),
or could improvise makeshift tubes of the same diameter for
use as launchers. The most primitive option would be to ignite
the rocket motor when such a tube has been set on the ground,
supported at an angle by boards or stones. This method would
certainly reduce the launcher's already poor accuracy to almost
nil, but this is not of much importance when terror is the objective.
"Raad" ATGM - Iranian version of Soviet
9M14 'Malyutka' ATGM (anti-tank guided missile); NATO/Israeli
designation ÀÒ-3 'Sagger'.
Range: min. - 500 meters, max. - 3 km
Wt. of rocket: 11.3kg
WH: shaped charge, wt. 3kg
Armor penetration: 410 mm (450 mm, acc. to another source).
Guidance: wire, manual (MCLOS/SACLOS)
In production since 1961, the 'Malyutka' ATGM was used with
much success by the Arabs against Israeli tanks in 1973, but
today is obsolete and ineffectual against modern IDF tanks.
Iran produces for the ATGM a double shaped-charge warhead with
increased armor penetration, effective against multi-layer armor
and ERA (explosive reactive armor). Judging by the photographs,
the ATGMs were equipped with the older type warhead. Nonetheless,
it could pose a significant threat if used against APCs and
'Strela-2' man-portable anti-air guided missile
launcher, probably of Egyptian manufacture.
Guidance: Infrared (thermal)
Wt. of launcher with rocket: 14.5kg
Wt. of rocket: 9.15 kg
WH: HE/frag, wt.1.17 kg
Range: max - 3400m, min. - 800m
Target interception altitude: max - 1500m, min. - 50m
'Strelà-2' 9K32 man-portable anti-air guided missile launcher
(NATO designation SA-7A Grail; rocket des. 9Ì32) or its improved
version 9K32M 'Strela-2M' (SA-7B; rocket 9Ì32Ì). Except USSR/Russia
(where it is no longer in production), it is manufactured in
Egypt ('Ayn as Saqr'), Pakistan (ANZA MKI) and China (HN-5,
Hongying-5). Used by Egypt since 1969, and widely in the 1973
and 1982 conflicts, with low effectiveness. Captured units in
service with IDF since 1973. Egyptian-produced rockets are of
very low quality and reliability
"Sageg", Iranian copy of Soviet RPG-7
Caliber: 40 mm
Caliber of grenade: 85 mm (93mm and 105mm versions exist)
Maximum effective range: 500 meters (against moving target to
Wt., incl. grenade: 8.6 kg
Armor penetration (standard grenade): 300mm
Can be equipped with day/night optical sights.
Most common man-portable anti-tank grenade launcher
worldwide. Entered service in USSR in 1961. Widely used by Arab
armies in wars since 1973. Captured in large quantities by IDF
and put into service in Israel. Effectiveness derives from shaped
charge (i.e. explosion is focused into the target) of the PG-7
grenade and its variants. There is also an anti-personnel (fragmentation)
version, OG-7. Older versions present serious threat to APCs
(though most IDF Ì113 'Zelda' APCs are equipped with anti-HEAT
screens) and infantry. In urban environments, can present threat
to tanks by striking sides or rear. USSR has produced variants
with a tandem shaped-charge warhead (armor penetration 325mm
behind ERA). These variants, which were among the Karine-A cargo,
are also manufactured in Iran.
Wt.: 2.6 kg
Effective range: 200 meters
Maximum effective range: 200mm
Essentially a Soviet copy of the American Ì72 LAW (which is
in service with IDF since 1973). Light shoulder-fired disposable
grenade launcher. Presents serious threat to modern tanks only
in urban areas, where there is a possibility of striking a tank
from the rear. Effective against lightly armored vehicles (such
RKG-3 anti-tank hand grenade:
Armor penetration: 170-220mm
RKG in Russian stands for "cumulative-charge (shaped-charge)
hand grenade". Armor penetration is sufficient to threaten
obsolete tanks and lightly armored vehicles (APC, etc). Heavy
weight limits possible throwing distance to about 20 m, too
short for use in open areas. In built-up areas it can be used
with a certain degree of success.
SVD (Dragunov Sniper Rifle)
Caliber: 7.62x54mm R
Magazine: 10 rounds
Sight: PSO-1 with 4x magnification
Can be equipped with night sights
Maximum range: 1300m with optical sight, 1200m with regular
Weight with magazine and optical sight: 4.55kg
Soviet sniper rifle; entered service in USSR
1963. Effective range to 600-700 meters (up to 1000m for area
target). The 7.62*54mm round fired by the SVD easily penetrates
the Israeli standard-issue fragmentation jacket.
The Soviet/Russian definition of a 'sniper rifle'
differs significantly from the Western definition. Minimal Western
requirements for accuracy in 7.62ìì sniper rifles allow for
a maximum error of 1 angular minute (1/360) from the target,
equivalent to 29mm at 100 m, 145mm at 500 m, and 290mm at 1000
m. Figures for the SVD are 36mm, 188mm and 480-560mm respectively.
PK (Kalashnikov machine gun)
Caliber: 7.62x54mm R
Feeding: Belt, 100 or 250 rounds
Rate of fire: 650 rds/minute
Maximum effective range: 1500 m
Empty Wt. 9kg
Belongs to the class of medium machineguns, similar
to FN MAG. Captured PKs are in use by certain IDF units, such
as the Golani infantry brigade's reconnaissance company and
Egoz counter-guerilla battalion.
ÀK-47/ÀKM (Kalashnikov assualt rifle)
Magazine: 30 rounds
Rate of fire: 600 rds/min
Maximum effective range: 700 m
Wt with mag.: 4.78kg (AK-47); 3.6kg (AKM)
Folding-stock variants for above designated AKS-47 and ÀKMS
respectively. In production worldwide, with various modified
versions in different countries. Is currently in service with
over 50 governments; main issue weapon for PA police forces.
About 70 million units produced up to 1999. Large quantities,
mainly of the older models (ÀK-47/ÀKS-47), were seized by Israel
in 1967, 1973 and 1982 wars. AKs were used for many years by
the IDF-from 1967 to the late 1970s they were issued to commando
units. The ÀK-47 is still the issue weapon for Flotilla-13,
the IDF's naval commando unit ('Shayetet 13').
The 7.62mm AMD65 rifles seized from the 'Santorini' are Hungarian
AKM variants (entered service 1965). Distinguishing features
include: somewhat shortened barrel; second pistol grip in front
attached to the handguards; flash-suppressor (compatible with
rifle-mounted grenade launchers) on muzzle instead of simple
compensator (as on the ÀÊÌ); all variants equipped with folding
stock (fold right and forward exc. AKMS, which folds down and
forward) Otherwise the AMD65 is identical to the Soviet AKM.
The rifles seized from the 'Karine-A' are Chinese variants;
some had already been in service. Evidently the variants are:
Type-56-1 (AKC-47 analogue; not to be confused with Type-56,
which has a permanently attached folding bayonet, like that
on the SKS-45 carbine); Type 56S, Type 56S-3 (AKM clones; former
has wooden grip and stock, latter plastic); Type 56S-1 and Type
56S-2 (AKMS clones, plastic grip).
60 mm: wt. about 2kg (0.25kg HE), max
range about 1.7km;
81 mm: wt. about 3kg (0.55kg HE), max range about 5.3km;
120mm: wt. about 13kg (2.5kg HE), max range about 6km.
In the 1950s the Israeli company 'Solel-Boneh'
and the Finnish firm 'Tampela' established a joint enterprise
known as 'Soltam', for the production of mortars. ('Tampela'
later withdrew from the 'Soltam' project, but the name remained).
'Soltam' produces 60-, 81-, 120- and 160-mm mortars, for the
IDF and for export; it has also sold production licenses. Iran
was among the firm's customers until the 1979 Islamic revolution.
It is therefore possible that the mortars confiscated from the
Karine-A are identical to those used by the IDF.
Anti-tank and anti-personnel mines:
Yugoslavian-manufactured anti-tank mine, contains
6 kg TNT. Thanks to its plastic canister it is difficult to
detect. Three detonators on top, one on underside. The bottom
detonator reacts to attempts to lift the mine.
Similar to TMA-3; square canister, one detonator.
Iranian-manufactured anti-tank mine, copy of
Chinese Type-72. Round plastic container with conical lid. Contains
5.4kg TNT and RDX (Hexagen).
Iranian-manufactured anti-personnel mine, copy
of Italian ÂÑ-50. Round plastic canister with vertical support
ribs. Very difficult to detect, waterproof. Contains 50 grams
Ñ-4: plastic HE.
ÒNÒ - trinitrotoluene, one of the most common HE materials.
On all photos: Hizballah guerrillas with corresponding weapons.
Back to Top | Back
to Analysis | Back
to the Front page