The Crossings Authority thwarted 1,226 attempts to smuggle contraband into Gaza in 2016, a 165% increase from 2015.
The Ministry of Defense’ Crossings Authority, the body responsible for operating the Kerem Shalom and Erez crossing points from Israel into Gaza – as well as to the Palestinian Authority-administered territories – recently concluded another record-breaking year in thwarting attempts to smuggle equipment and materials meant for terrorism, while enabling life to continue in Gaza.
The Shin Bet (Israel’s Security Agency) and the Crossings Authority, together with the IDF’s Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), Israeli Police and the Tax Authority, continued to fight the persistent attempts to smuggle contraband into the Gaza Strip.
Various elements have attempted to smuggle a broad array of materials and equipment through the crossing to the Hamas terror organization, which could use the illegal imports for terror purposes.
Many of these smuggling operations have employed imaginative methods, including by sea and via Israel’s postal service. These attempts include the smuggling of everything from gun scopes to entire trucks.
Smuggling attempts have increased each year since Operation Protective Edge in the summer of 2014.
In 2016, 1,226 smuggling attempts were foiled, representing a 165 percent increase from 2015.
This increase in smuggling attempts is due to increased truck traffic, an expanded list of controlled items and an increased deterrence among truck drivers resulting in decreased cooperation with the smugglers.
Dozens of investigations led by the Shin Bet have resulted in “significant damage” to the smuggling infrastructure into Gaza, the Ministry of Defense stated.
Examples of items seized during thwarted smuggling attempts include drones and small UAVs, security cameras, dismantled vehicle parts, 4X4 engines and tires, lasers, rappelling equipment, professional-grade diving equipment to be used by Hamas’ commandos, communications equipment, car batteries, military clothing, dual-use fiberglass employed in terror-tunnel building, liquid polyester and adhesive material used for rocket building, spiral welding, aluminum and iron pipes, water pumps used for terror tunnels, metal pellets, steel rods and more materials used in the various stages of rocket and mortar production.
“The defense establishment’s bitter war against smugglers has noticeably slowed the strengthening of terrorist groups in Gaza,” stated rig. Gen. (res) Kamil Abu-Rokon, head of the Ministry of Defense Crossings Authority. “In recent months, we have installed a new shipment screening system at Kerem Shalom, the most advanced in the world, and have added technologies and new testing methods that add to our abilities in the daily struggle against the smugglers.”
In related news, the Crossings Authority registered some 13 million Palestinian pedestrian entries into Israel through its crossing points in 2016, 1.6 million more than in 2015.
The peak was during October with a record of over 55,000 daily pedestrians crossed in to Israel for employment, for commerce, as well as for medical and humanitarian treatment.
In 2016, the movement of Israeli goods into Gaza through Kerem Shalom increased by 13 percent to 175,000 trucks and peaked at an average of 890 trucks daily throughout the month of October.
These imports included cement which was meant for construction, but often stolen by Hamas and used to build its military fortifications.
By: Aryeh Savir, World Israel News