A smuggling ring in which Hamas used a major crossing for goods to bring war materials into Gaza has been exposed by Israel. A press release from the Israel Security Agency said the items, ranging from iron to fiber optic cables and destined for military use, were “frequently” smuggled among items that had received the proper permits.
Included among the smuggled contraband were raw materials for use in making explosives, which was in a container of humanitarian equipment. Said the Israeli press release, “The case underscores—yet again—how Hamas cynically exploits Israel’s humanitarian approach and how Hamas does not hesitate to endanger the basic interests of the Palestinian public in its efforts to rebuild its Gaza-based military capabilities.”
The crossing links Israel with the Gaza Strip and is used to enable humanitarian items, food, and goods to enter Gaza. However, the items Hamas was smuggling included communications equipment, concrete and more, “used in its military installations, to prepare attack tunnels, at its training facilities and for the manufacture of war materiel.”
The Israeli Security Agency, Police, IDF, and other agencies cracked the case, identifying two Hamas operatives and a Hamas affiliate organization as being among those involved in the smuggling ring. In light of Egypt’s efforts to crack down on smuggling in the Sinai, the press release noted that this smuggling route became “more valuable to Hamas.”
The press release highlighted the discrepancy between Hamas’ public statements lamenting the economic situation in Gaza with their investment of “vast sums” on military pursuits.
“The Kerem Shalom Crossing provides the only passage for merchandise and goods between Israel and the Gaza Strip,” said the press release. “The State of Israel saw to the regular operation of the Crossing, even during Operation Protective Edge, in order to allow the importation of consumer goods and basic products for the population of Gaza.
“Terrorists in Gaza, especially Hamas, identified the potential at the Crossing for bringing in materials need to build up their military infrastructures.”
The press release noted that moving forward the supervision of the items entering Gaza will “tighten” and plan to use “all legal means… to combat smuggling,” including confiscation of goods and criminal prosecution of smugglers.
(By Joshua Spurlock, www.themideastupdate.com, March 2, 2015)