Too much salt—that was the tip off to the Israelis that something more than the food seasoning was about to be smuggled into the Gaza Strip. So the Israeli Security Agency (ISA) along with custom inspectors investigated the purportedly 40 tons of salt set to enter Gaza and found inside sacks containing four tons worth of a chemical used to produce long-range rockets.
According to the press release from the Israel Tax Authority reporting the incident, the amount of the chemical “would have enabled the manufacture of hundreds” of long-range rockets.” Thankfully the Israelis didn’t let it get that far. “The ISA became suspicious that, given the large quantity of salt that had been ordered for the Gaza Strip, salt shipments were being used to smuggle in chemicals for use in manufacturing facilities in the Strip, especially the manufacture of rockets,” said the release.
The chemical, ammonium chloride, can be put toward peaceful purposes as well—a so-called “dual use” item—but the lengths at which the Palestinian smuggler went to import it suggested it was to be used for deadly weapons. The press release noted that the importer has ties to Hamas’ buy valium powder military wing, and so the ISA suspects the smuggler “sought to bring the material into the Strip for use in Hamas’ production facilities.”
“This case underscores the activity of Gaza-based terrorist organizations in smuggling dual-use materials disguised as goods destined for the civilian population and reconstruction projects,” said the press release, noting that the Israeli security establishment views the incident “with utmost gravity.”
Ammonium chloride requires a permit to enter Gaza due to the risk that it could be used by Palestinian terrorists, such as Hamas, for the creation of weapons. The interception of the potentially lethal chemical was made prior to the recent Passover holiday, but was only released for publication on Tuesday (May 3).
Ironically, the same day the interception was made public, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu discussed with Norwegian Foreign Minister Borge Brende about “the possibility of improving the humanitarian situation in Gaza while carefully meeting Israel’s security needs,” according to a press release from Netanyahu’s office.
That process is apparently tougher than it sounds, but Netanyahu underscored it’s not just Israel that is at stake. The press statement said Netanyahu highlighted Israel’s role “as an anchor of stability in the Middle East, which is vital to Europe’s security.”
(By Joshua Spurlock, www.themideastupdate.com, May 3, 2016)