Itongadol.- Customs employees and the Shin Bet domestic intelligence agency intercepted an attempt to smuggle diving suits into the Gaza Strip, authorities announced on Monday, nearly a year after a Hamas naval commando cell attempted to infiltrate Kibbutz Zikim during last summer\’s conflict.
Israel intercepts 40 diving suits en route to Gaza
The interception was made at the Nitzana customs terminal, on the border with Gaza, at the start of May, authorities said in a statement, adding that it was the latest in a "series of attempts to smuggle weapons and equipment to the Gaza Strip." Import documents claimed that the suspicious package contained sports suits, "but a thorough check by Nitzana customs employees found 40 diving suits inside, which require special approval for import to the coastal enclave – the approval was not requested in this import," the Customs Directorate said.
Security sources assessed that the package was part of Hamas\’s attempts to build up its offensive military capabilities in Gaza, and particularly, a drive to build up its naval strike force, which includes commando cells tasked with attacking Israeli targets.
Four divers reached Zikim beach, north of Gaza, during Operation Protective Edge last July to try and attack Israeli targets. They were eventually identified by IDF lookouts, and killed in strikes by the Israel Navy.
"Customs employees at the Nitzana border crossing have witnessed a rise in the number of attempts to smuggle weapons and means to manufacture weapons to Gaza," the Customs Directorate said. "In the last four months alone… employees prevented the smuggling of 1200 Polyurethane tubes, used to manufacture thrust material for rockets, hidden in a silicon shipment, [as well as another type of] material [also] used to produce thrust for rockets, hidden in paint tins. They also found 200 kilograms of raw sulfur rods, which can be used to produce weapons, hardener material used as fuel for furnaces for casting metals, and 18 tons of metallurgical coke-type carbon, hidden in a dry food package.
Authorities vowed to use "all of the tools" at their disposal to prosecute those involved.
In April, Defense Ministry security inspectors intercepted a shipment of thousands of electrodes from the West Bank that were on the way to terror organizations in the Gaza Strip. The discovery was made at the Kerem Shalom border crossing with Gaza, and was the third capture of goods destined for Gazan terrorists in the space of two weeks.
Inspectors found the electrodes concealed in between marble slabs.
"This is one of the biggest captures at Kerem Shalom crossing since Operation Protective Edge [last summer]," the Defense Ministry said.
Electrodes can be used by terror organizations to weld rocket finds and other projectile parts, and to create a range of explosive devices.