Terrorists keep seeking new ways to smuggle weapons into Gaza—like recently hiding materials used to make explosives in a medical shipment—and the Israelis keep finding new ways to thwart those efforts. The latest Israeli advancement is a laboratory at the Kerem Shalom crossing to Gaza that can test a range of materials for explosives “in as short a time as possible”, according to a press release from the Israeli Ministry of Defense.
That lab recently intercepted materials in a shipment of medical equipment, which upon testing at the new Israeli lab were found to be “a central component used in the preparation of explosive charges” and the rocket and mortar industry. Israel is investigating the smuggling effort.
The Ministry of Defense said the advanced laboratory was put in place several months ago to “locate problematic materials whose entry into the Gaza Strip is forbidden for fear of reaching terrorist forces.” But it’s not just helping Israelis—it’s intended to make life easier on Gazans too.
The Israeli press release noted that the purpose of the lab is to efficiently determine what is in a material “within as short a time frame as possible” from when a sample is taken. “This is in order to minimize the danger to crossing officials and in order to improve the quality of service and to minimize as much as possible any delays in the entry of goods into Gaza,” said the Israeli Ministry of Defense statement.
That balance isn’t easy, especially when smuggling efforts try to not only hide weapons inside civilian shipments, but can even use certain civilian goods for militaristic purposes.
For example, the substances that can be used to make explosives and explosive devices that were most recently found were known as “dual use” items, which means they can have both civilian and military application. This is a real concern when dealing with weapons embargoes, such as efforts to prevent Iran from importing items for their nuclear weapons program.
Despite the challenges, Israel is finding success. The press release noted that the Kerem Shalom Crossing Authority thwarted “dozens of smuggling attempts” in 2017.
(By Joshua Spurlock, www.themideastupdate.com, February 4, 2018)