‘A Raid on the Red Sea’ Book Review: Israeli Commandos Intercept an Arms Cache Destined for Terrorists


A Raid on the Purple Sea: The Israeli Seize of the Karine A, by Amos Gilboa, edited and translated by Yonah Jeremy Bob, Potomac Books, Lincoln, Neb., 2021, $34.95

Within the early morning hours of Jan. 3, 2002, a workforce of Israeli navy commandos boarded the Palestinian-owned service provider ship Karine A and seized a 50-ton cache of arms that had been offered by Iran and Hezbollah, loaded aboard in Yemen and slated for terrorists in Gaza. Backed by fight helicopters and plane, the Israeli workforce executed its daring raid within the Purple Sea, some 130 miles south of the Gulf of Aqaba, removed from any pleasant bases of operation.

Essentially the most spectacular and profitable Israeli clandestine operation into overseas territory because the 1976 hostage-rescue mission at Entebbe Airport in Uganda, the Purple Sea raid proved way over only a setback to terrorist assaults towards Israel. The arms-smuggling operations had been organized and financed by the best ranges of the Palestinian Authority, the Iranian authorities and the Lebanon-based Hezbollah. Its failure and the ensuing worldwide publicity struck a harmful blow to perceptions—notably by america authorities—of the Palestinian Authority as a power for peace within the Center East.

The raid itself marked the fruits of an intelligence/counterintelligence duel rivaling probably the most convoluted spy novels of such writers as Len Deighton or John le Carré. A Raid on the Purple Sea reveals how Yasser Arafat and co-conspirators from Gaza, Lebanon and Iran conceived and executed a plan to smuggle the arms into Gaza by ship using watertight containers deposited offshore after which towed ashore by small fishing boats. Creator Amos Gilboa then relates how Israeli naval intelligence uncovered the plan, recognized the ship and tracked it from the Persian Gulf to the Purple Sea. He then outlines the Israeli navy operation to efficiently intercept the ship at night time lots of of miles from their help base. The ensuing narrative is a true-life technothriller worthy of any work of fiction on the perfect vendor lists.

—Robert Guttman

The Israeli Seize of the Karine A

By Amos Gailboa

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