Sep 29, 2022
JERUSALEM WEATHER
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The Shin Bet, Israel Police, Israel Tax Authority and the State Attorney’s Office, assisted by the Defense Ministry, the IDF and the Justice Ministry, uncovered a terrorist smuggling ring that was aiding terrorists in the Gaza Strip.

The ring smuggled millions of dollars worth of building materials for use by the Hamas terrorist organization in Gaza as well as other materials used for strengthening the organizations terrorist infrastructure.

The smugglers abused Israel’s good will to the people of Gaza in allowing the transfer of merchandise, raw materials and other goods through the Kerem Shalom border crossing.

According to the Shin Bet, members of the smuggling ring would purchase good in Israel, hide them in shipping containers, and then ship them under false pretenses to Hamas inside Gaza. The shipments were registered to Palestinian merchants but were often taken directly from the Palestinian side of the crossing to Hamas.

Twenty-six suspects were arrested, including numerous Israelis, one of whom lives in a community right next to the Gaza Strip. The Shin Bet confirmed that the suspects knew that the goods were headed for Hamas and were complying with the scheme willingly.

Among the many types of smuggled goods were iron and various iron goods and products, electrical and electronic equipment, communications equipment, fiber optic cables, drills and other digging equipment, concrete for building terror tunnels, pipes for the manufacturing of rockets and other items.

The goods were often smuggled inside properly consigned goods and containers that were being transferred to the civilian population in the Strip. These humanitarian goods are permitted to civilians inside Gaza.

Hamas used the opportunity to smuggle contraband and often highly dangerous materials, such as explosives, among the humanitarian items to slip them through the border.

Eshkol Regional Council head Haim Jelin stated that he was shocked that a local resident would help Hamas after the constant rocket barrage that the region has undergone at the hands of the terror group.

“If the suspicions are proven correct and the accused did indeed cooperate with Hamas, then I see it as a grave betrayal of Israel, the residents of the council and members of the community in which he lives,” said Jelin in an interview with Channel 2.

“I expect the legal authorities to act to the full extent of the law and without compromise against those who betrayed and endangered the lives of their friends in a vile act, for financial gain,” he added.

With the closure of Egyptian crossings into the Strip and the demolition of smuggling tunnels from Sinai, the Israeli smuggling ring grew increasingly important to the maintenance of Hamas’ military infrastructure.

Israeli security and law-enforcement authorities have stated that they will tighten the supervision of goods designated for the Gaza Strip and will use all legal means (criminal prosecution, economic sanctions, the confiscation of goods, revocation of permits) at their disposal in an effort to combat smuggling.