Israel releases octogenarian behind Karine A arms smuggling ship

Former Arafat aide Fuad Shubaki, who was oldest Palestinian inmate in Israeli prison, is sent to West Bank after serving 17 years for role in foiled Iranian weapons transfer

File: Weapons displayed on the ship Karine A, seized by Israel in the Red Sea in January 2002. (IDF Spokesman)
File: Weapons displayed on the ship Karine A, seized by Israel in the Red Sea in January 2002. (IDF Spokesman)

The oldest Palestinian prisoner in Israeli jail was released on Monday after serving 17 years for arms smuggling, an advocacy group and his son said.

Fuad Shubaki, 83, was released from Ashkelon prison and was “on his way to Ramallah” in the West Bank, a spokesperson for the Palestinian Prisoner’s Club said, which was confirmed by Shubaki’s son Hazem.

Shubaki, a senior member of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s movement Fatah, was sentenced by Israel in 2009 for his role in attempting to smuggle weapons from Iran to the Gaza Strip aboard the Karine A ship, which was seized by Israel in the Red Sea in early 2002.

The Israeli military claimed the ship was carrying 50 tons of weapons, including short-range Katyusha rockets, anti-tank missiles and explosives from Iran and the Lebanese-based Shiite terror group Hezbollah.

Shubaki, who dealt with financial issues for then-Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, was convicted of purchasing the weapons and contacting a foreign agent.

He was first arrested by Palestinian security forces in 2002, at the height of the Second Intifada, and held in the West Bank town of Jericho under US and British supervision.

In 2006, the prison was stormed by Israeli forces and Shubaki was taken to Israel, where he was tried in a military court and sentenced to 20 years in jail.

The sentence was later reduced to 17 years.

The Israel Prison Service confirmed releasing Shubaki, who it said had served his complete sentence.

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