An Israeli Submarine Took Part in Capture of Karine-A

debkafile‘s exclusive military sources reveal the hitherto unknown fact that an Israeli submarine took part in the capture of the Palestinian arms smuggling boat, Karine-A, on January 3. Its part in the operation was to bring naval commandos belonging to the crack Israel naval Shayet 13 unit up to the target vessel.
Before leaving the sub, the commandos were divided into two 20-man squads.
At 2 am on the night of January 2, the first squad exited through the submarine hatch and swam up to the vessel, which was still in motion. At that moment, Israeli military helicopters came in overhead and dropped rope ladders to swing the frogmen aboard the weapons ship.
The second squad followed soon after. They landed as paratroops specially trained in taking over sea vessels rappelled down to its deck. When the second squad of frogmen was aboard, four large helicopters equipped with powerful spotlights swooped in.
Throughout the operation, an Israeli air force AWACS flew low overhead, from which chief of staff, Lieutenant-General Shaul Mofaz, navy commander Admiral Yedidya Yaari and Major-General Dan Halutz, the air force chief, followed the operation.
When all the boarding party was in place, the naval commandos commander, Yossi, went up to Captain Omar Akawi, with whom he had a previous personal acquaintance, and told him what was happening in Arabic. Akawi responded by offering to cooperate. He guided the assault team to the cargo of weapons crates and containers. He then took Yossi and a group of Israel commandos up to his cabin, where he handed over a pile of documents relating to the ship and its weapons cargo. Some of the documents were signed personally by Yasser Arafat and bore the official seals of the Palestinian Authority.
Later, according to DEBAKfile’s military sources, Israeli national police criminal identification laboratories in Jerusalem verified Arafat’s signature as genuine by comparing it with the signatures the Palestinian leader had affixed to the interim peace accords and protocols at Oslo in 1993. Only after the police experts authenticated Arafat’s signature did prime minister Ariel Sharon telephone US President George W. Bush and secretary of state Colin Powell with the incriminating evidence connecting the Palestinian leader to the illegal shipment. Whereupon Sharon was asked to keep the documents dark until the United States decided how to deal with Arafat.
The implication was that for the first time the US government was considering directly punishing the Palestinian leader.
Last Wednesday, January 16, William Burns, US assistant secretary of state for Near East affairs, was due in Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Sharon was informed from Washington, that Burns would deliver a letter to Arafat announcing a freeze on US diplomatic relations with him and his administration, on the basis of the documents bearing his signature that were found on the Karine-A. US contacts with the Palestinian Authority were henceforth to be conducted through military channels alone and the CIA officers attending the Israel-Palestinian security meetings.
At the last moment, US leaders backed down and called off the Burns trip.
debkafile‘s sources have ascertained that Sharon instructed Mofaz, during his working visit to Washington last week, to take up the question of Washington’s postponement of its sanctions against Arafat when he met national security adviser Condoleezza Rice. He was told to find out when the Bush administration intended doing something about Arafat.
But, in the interim, a Palestinian gunman murdered six Israelis celebrating a Bat Mitzvah coming-of-age party in the northern Israeli town of Hadera. When a wing of Arafat’s own Fatah claimed responsibility, Sharon redoubled his demands for a green light from Washington to make the Karine-A documents with Arafat’s signature public.

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