Hamas steals telecom equipment provided by Israel to use in terror war

The organization has made it a priority to replace equipment destroyed by Israeli anti-terror strikes.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Hamas terrorists broke into a civilian warehouse in the Gaza Strip about 10 days ago to steal its telecommunications equipment for its military needs, Yediot Ahronot reported on Sunday.

They cleaned out the warehouse of tens of millions of shekels’ worth of gear that belonged to Pal Tel, the Palestinian Authority’s phone company that supplies cellular and internet service to Gazan citizens. It included optic fibers, advanced electronic communication systems that allow frequency skipping, copper cables, and other things that Israel defines as “dual-use” equipment that can have both military and civilian applications.

Israel generally forbids the import of such items specifically to prevent Hamas from using them to upgrade its terror capabilities. It had allowed Pal Tel to buy this equipment at the end of last year as part of its ongoing attempt to coordinate an “arrangement” with Hamas in exchange for quiet on its border with the coastal enclave, said the report. This, despite the fact that at the time, Hamas was still arranging the weekly violent protest of thousands of Gazans at the border fence and launching rockets at Israel.

According to the Tazpit Press Service, the stolen equipment will be used to restore infrastructure Israel destroyed a year and a half ago in a strike against the terrorist organization. A source told the Israeli news agency that Hamas is focusing on building a communications system in its terror tunnels, which is why they hit the Pal Tel warehouse.

This is not the only dual-use equipment Hamas has stolen recently, Yediot reported. After the heavy rains last month, Israel allowed heavy earth-moving vehicles in to help deal with the damage that was caused, and Hamas appropriated them for its own needs. It also helped itself to cement that Israel had allowed in after a long hiatus in order to prevent the material from being used in the building of terror tunnels.

Following the spate of explosive balloon launches over recent weeks, the cement deliveries were halted by Israeli authorities.

Israel will not allow Pal Tel to replace its lost goods.

“Until what was stolen is returned, we will not allow the entry of communications equipment to any companies operating in the Strip,” said General Kamil Abu Rokon, commander of Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), the IDF unit that coordinates civilian issues with the Palestinian Authority and other entities.