|Arafat ‘purchased weapons with Israeli aid money’
the Foreign Staff
YASIR ARAFAT used Israeli and international aid to buy weapons and ammunition to fight against the Jewish state, the late PA President’s senior aide has revealed.|
According to Israeli media reports, the aide, Fuad Shubaki, told his interrogators that Arafat’s deals included the 50 tonnes of weaponry seized by the Israeli Navy on the Karine-A ship in 2002. The ship was intercepted in the Red Sea by Israeli naval commandos while it was en route to Gaza.
Shubaki was arrested two months ago during a raid on Jericho Prison where he was held with the alleged assassins of former Tourism Minister Rechavam Ze’evi. He now faces trial on terrorism charges in Israel.
The former official said the weapons on Karine A included Sagger guided anti-tank missiles used by Hizbollah against Israeli armour in Lebanon, LAW anti-tank missiles, long-range mortars, mines and Katyusha rockets with a 20-kilometre range.
These weapons, part of a deal between the PA, Iran and Hizbollah, were to be provided to Palestinian groups from the Tanzim and al-Aksa Martyrs’ Brigades, which were under Arafat’s direct control.
According to his Shin Bet interrogators, Shubaki estimated that some $7-10 million from international aid were used every two years to purchase arms for the Gaza Strip, and another $2 million were used to fund the West Bank weapons. He added that when money was in short supply, weapons purchases were reduced.
Shubaki allegedly revealed that several senior Palestinian officials were involved in the allocation of the money to military purposes. Among them were security and police chiefs Jibril Rajoub, Amin al-Hindi, Rashid Abu Shabak and Ghazi Jibali, who all received payments for their part in the weapons purchases.
Shubaki informed his investigators that when the second intifada broke out in 2000, Arafat ordered the establishment of several bodies, consisting of PA officials in various Arab and Muslim countries, who were in charge of purchasing large amounts of arms.
Iran was one of the most generous donors, Shubaki said, offering to assist the Palestinians by training fighters, providing weapons and weapon-producing know-how and funding the establishment of installations that could produce arms.