Israel intercepts 40 diving suits en route to Gaza
By YAAKOV LAPPIN
05/18/2015, Jerusalem Post
Customs, Shin Bet: Package was part of Hamas attempt to build up naval attack force.
Customs officers and the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) intercepted an attempt to smuggle diving suits into the Gaza Strip, authorities announced on Monday, some nine months after a Hamas naval commando unit attempted to infiltrate Kibbutz Zikim during last summer’s conflict.
The shipment was intercepted at the Nitzana customs terminal, on the border with Gaza, at the start of May, authorities said, 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 a special license for import to the Strip.”
Security sources assess 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 units 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 a strike 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 1,200 polyurethane tubes used to manufacture thrust material for rockets, hidden in a silicon shipment… and in paint tins.
“They also found 200 kilograms of raw sulfur rods, which can be used to produce weapons, hardening 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 to the full.
In April, Defense Ministry inspectors intercepted a shipment of thousands of welding electrodes from the West Bank that were on the way to terrorist 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 between marble slabs.
Electrodes can be used by terrorist organizations to weld rocket fins and other projectile parts, and to create a range of explosive devices.
“This is one of the biggest captures at Kerem Shalom crossing since Operation Protective Edge,” the Defense Ministry said.