Fuad Shubaki, a leader of Palestinian terrorism who was the mastermind behind an attempt to smuggle dozens of tons of weapons from Iran to the Gaza Strip, was released from an Israeli prison on Monday after 17 years behind bars.
Shubaki was convicted on charges of illegal arms dealing and for organizing an attempted shipment of 50 tons of weapons, including a variety of rockets and missiles, from Iran to Gaza on the Karine A in 2002.
The Karine A was purchased by the Palestinian Authority and traveled to Iran where Iran and Hezbollah loaded 80 crates full of weapons onto it. The ship was meant to cross the Suez Canal into the Mediterranean Sea and then meet three smaller ships that would transfer the weapons to Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, but it was intercepted in the Red Sea by the Israeli Navy and Air Force in an operation known as “Operation Noah’s Ark.”
After his release on Monday, Shubaki headed to Ramallah, where he was set to be received by a series of ceremonies and celebrations.
Born in 1940 in Gaza City, Shubaki was considered, up until his release on Monday, the oldest Palestinian prisoner in the Israeli prison system at 83 years old. He had suffered from poor health in recent years, according to Palestinian reports.
He served as a financial adviser for former Palestinian Authority president Yasser Arafat and as a member of the Fatah movement. He was also responsible for the financial management of the Palestinian security services.
In 2006, Israeli security forces raided a Palestinian prison in Jericho where Shubaki was being held, arresting him and Ahmad Sa’adat, secretary-general of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and a number of other members of the PFLP involved in the assassination of tourism minister Rehavam Ze’evi in 2001. The raid was known as “Operation Bringing Home the Goods.”
Following his arrest, Shubaki told his interrogators that the PA funded terror cells. He estimated that $7 million to $10m. was used every two years to purchase arms for the Gaza Strip, and another $2m. was spent on weapons for the West Bank.
The money, he said, came from international aid to the PA, tax money Israel routinely transferred to the authority and taxes collected in the Gaza Strip.
“The prisoners sacrificed their lives for the Palestinian cause, as some of them spent many decades leading a continuous revolution inside the occupation prisons.”Fouad Shubaki
In 2009, Shubaki was sentenced to 20 years in prison for his involvement in the Karine A weapons smuggling attempt. The sentence was shortened to 17 years in 2015 due to his ailing health and age.
Upon his release on Monday, Shubaki stated: “The prisoners sacrificed their lives for the Palestinian cause, as some of them spent many decades leading a continuous revolution inside the occupation prisons,” according to Palestinian media. He called for the need to find “an immediate solution” for the release of Palestinian prisoners.
Hamas congratulated the octogenarian on his release on Monday, adding “While we congratulate the fighter Shubaki, his family and his loved ones on his release, we renew our pledge to our heroic prisoners that their cause will remain our top priority until their liberation from the occupation prisons.”
Yaakov Katz contributed to this report.