Tags: Captain | Admits | Arms | Ship | Was | for | Palestinians

Captain Admits Arms Ship Was for Palestinians

Monday, 07 January 2002 12:00 AM

``I'm a soldier. I obeyed orders,'' Capt. Omar Akawi said.

He told Israeli TV stations and Fox News that he received the weapons off Iran's coast and was supposed to deliver them to smaller vessels off the Egyptian coast.

Akawi spoke from Ashkelon prison south of Tel Aviv under the watchful eye of the army, the Israeli Security Service and prison wardens.

Akawi, 44, identified himself as a captain in the Palestinian navy.

Akawi said he did not know whether Arafat knew of the attempt to smuggle 50 tons of arms and bombs to the Gaza Strip.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on Sunday said the operation "was led by Arafat. It was his initiative. He was instructed to pay the money. He sent the people."

Arafat announced Monday that a Palestinian committee was formed to investigate the Israeli allegations.

Arafat urged the European Union, the United States, Russia and the United Nations to join an international committee to investigate.

"If there is any evidence that any Palestinian official is involved, he would be taken to court," Arafat said.

Arafat made his announcement in a joint news conference after he met with the European Union Chief of Foreign Policy Javier Solana in the West Bank town of Ramallah.

The Israeli government said the Palestinian Authority paid for the anti-tank rockets, Katyusha rockets, mortars and mortar bombs, mines, sniper rifles and other ammunition.

Akawi did not confirm that in the broadcasted interview. He said he considered the shipment a contribution of the Arab and Islamic people to the Palestinian people.

He said his orders were to carry the load though the Suez Canal to the Mediterranean Sea and deliver it near Alexandria to three smaller vessels.

The smaller boats were to carry the shipments to Gaza or El Arish, in eastern Egypt, near the Gaza Strip. Arms were packed in watertight cylinders that could be set to float under the water.

Akawi, dressed in the prison's brown uniform, made a V-for-victory sign as he entered the room for one of the interviews. At the end he seemed to become emotional. "I want my daughter, Malak, to be proud of the fact her father fought," he said. Channel 1 TV said his wife and daughter live in Libya.

Copyright 2002 by United Press International.

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``I'm a soldier. I obeyed orders,'' Capt. Omar Akawi said. He told Israeli TV stations and Fox News that he received the weapons off Iran's coast and was supposed to deliver them to smaller vessels off the Egyptian coast. Akawi spoke from Ashkelon prison south of Tel...
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2002-00-07
Monday, 07 January 2002 12:00 AM
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