Back to Analysis
Back to the front page Rambler's Top100

Last updated: 20/07/02
Authors: Kirill, Oleg Granovsky

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 strip.

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 u-dvash').
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 questionable).

Armaments and Ammunition :
'Strela -2' man-portable air defense system
'alyutka' (-3 'Sagger') anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) launchers
'lyutka' (AT-3 'Sagger') ATGM
107mm unguided rocket launchers
107mm unguided rockets, incl.fuses
283 ('Haseb')
122mm unguided rocket launchers
122mm unguided rockets, incl.fuses
62 ('Arash')
60mm mortars
60mm mortar rounds
81mm mortars
81mm mortar rounds
120mm mortars
120mm mortar rounds
RPG-18 single-use anti-tank rocket launchers
RPG-7 anti-tank grenade launchers
51 ( "")
RPG-7 aiming sights
PG-7 AT grenades for RPG-7
209 ('Nader')
Tandem AT grenades for RPG-7


G-7 fragmentation grenades for RPG-7
Rocket motors for G-7 and PG-7
RPG-3 anti-tank grenades
Fragmentation hand grenades
-5 anti-tank mines
-3 anti-tank mines
YM-III anti-tank mines
YM-I anti-tank mine
7.62mm AK-47/AKM assault rifles
30 (AMD65)
30-round magazines for above
7.62x39mm rounds for AK-47/AKM
about 13,000
7.62x54mm SVD sniper rifles + optics
7.62x54mm PK machine guns (with spare barrels)
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, underwater illuminators).
  • 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 manufacture.

Caliber: 122mm
Range: 20.75 km
Weight of rocket: 66.4kg
Warhead (WH): 19.18kg, high-explosive (HE)/fragmentation. Includes 6.4kg HE
Copy of 'Grad' MLRS produced in China, Egypt, Rumania, South Africa, Iraq and Iran ('rash'). 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 type.
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 clone

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 -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 fortified positions.


'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
'Strel-2' 9K32 man-portable anti-air guided missile launcher (NATO designation SA-7A Grail; rocket des. 932) or its improved version 9K32M 'Strela-2M' (SA-7B; rocket 932). 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 300 m)
WH: shaped-charge
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 113 '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.



Caliber: 64mm
Wt.: 2.6 kg
Effective range: 200 meters
Maximum effective range: 200mm

Essentially a Soviet copy of the American 72 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 as jeeps).

RKG-3 anti-tank hand grenade:

Wt: 1.07kg
Length: 400mm
Diameter: 76mm
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.

Small arms:

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 sight
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 7.62 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.


K-47/KM (Kalashnikov assualt rifle)

Caliber: 7.62x39mm
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 KMS 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 (K-47/KS-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 K-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 ); 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 -50. Round plastic canister with vertical support ribs. Very difficult to detect, waterproof. Contains 50 grams HE.


-4: plastic HE.
N - 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