CATF Reports May 5, 2016, 12:48pm


In early April a shipment of 40 tons of salt directed to the Gaza Strip alerted the customs inspectors at the Nitzana Crossing, an international border crossing handling commercial trade between Egypt, Israel, and the Palestinian Authority. The Gaza importer’s alleged ties to Hamas triggered a full inspection that confirmed the suspects of both the Tax Authority and the Israel Security Agency (ISA) operatives: 4 tons of ammonium chloride, a dual-use substance used in fertilizers as well as in the production of long-range rockets and explosives in general, were disguised within the salt sacks.

The passage of dual-use substances into the Gaza Strip is strictly regulated and requires special permits, primarily in light of the long track record of attempts to smuggle materials liable to be employed by Gaza-based terrorist organizations. Last year, shipments of construction aid allowed in the Gaza Strip as part of Israel’s efforts to relax the blockade were confirmed to be one of the preferred means used by Hamas to import bomb making materials. Qatar, the major funder of the Gaza reconstruction efforts and, incidentally, a long-time financier of Hamas’ operations, came once again into the limelight. In 2015, Qatar was in fact the primary sponsor of truckloads of construction materials shipped into Gaza.

The recently announced lifting of the Gaza blockade may offer new smuggling opportunities for Gaza-based terrorists – Hamas and Islamic Jihad in the first place – and further complicate controls on trade and shipments entering the Gaza strip.

 

From the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs Press Release:

The ISA suspects that in this smuggling attempt the importer, a resident of the Gaza Strip with ties to the Hamas military wing, 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.

 

The security establishment and the Israel Tax Authority customs view the incident with utmost gravity. It is their intention to continue to locate and thwart attempts to smuggle in dual-use materials and deal with those involved to the fullest extent of the law. It should be noted that cooperation between customs authorities, especially personnel at the land crossings, and the ISA has led to the foiling of dozens of attempts to smuggle items and materials that are prohibited from importation into the Gaza Strip – such as sulfuric acid, diving suits, rocket propulsion fuel components, polyurethane, sulfur, fiberglass rolls and specially coarse coal for use in iron smelters and metalwork – and which are suspected of being for use by local terrorist organizations.”

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