February 12, 2002
BEIRUT, Lebanon – Retracting earlier comments blaming Hezbollah, Palestinian
Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat said in remarks published today that Israel
was behind an arms shipment captured by Israeli commandos last month.
In an interview with Lebanon’s An-Nahar newspaper, Arafat said Israel’s
intelligence service, Mossad, had engineered the arms ship episode as a blow
against the Palestinians, Iran and Lebanon’s militant Hezbollah group.
Israel had accused Arafat of direct involvement in the Karine A, a ship carrying
50 tons of Iranian weapons that Israel seized in the Red Sea on January 3.
Israel also said Iran and Hizbullah were involved.
The Palestinian Authority said it had nothing to do with the arms and Iran also
In remarks published last week, Arafat reiterated his denial of any links to the
ship and put the blame on Hizbullah.
“It is absolutely a story of lies. The ship was owned by Hizbullah, who bought it
from its Iraqi owner for about $400,000. The weapons were on the way to
Hizbullah, and we have no connection with this case,” Arafat was quoted as
saying in an interview with the Egyptian magazine Al Mussawar.
The Iranian-backed Hizbullah group rejected Arafat’s charges.
Asked what proof he had against Hizbullah, Arafat was quoted as saying in
Tuesday’s interview with An-Nahar, “We do not accuse Iran or Hizbullah. We
accuse Israel, its government and its intelligence apparatus. Although we lack
proof today, evidence and proof indicate that there was an Israeli hand behind
the ship episode aimed at striking us and striking Iran and Hizbullah.”