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Fighting Hamas on Land and on Sea

The Israel Navy is gearing up to meet the challenge of facing a Hamas navy on the Mediterranean beaches in Gaza.
By Hana Levi Julian
First Publish: 8/10/2007, 9:42 AM

The Hamas terrorist organization has taken another step in securing its sovereignty over Gaza with the establishment of what it calls a navy patrol on the Mediterranean shoreline.

The so-called navy is still grounded, with no marine vessels of its own, though it armed with artillery.  It is headed by Jamil al-Dahashan, formerly a Hamas special force commander in Gaza City.

The Israel Navy has expressed grave concern at this development, and has alerted its sailors to the possibility that terrorists will try to use the Mediterranean Sea to stage attacks, an IDF source said.

“The security fence in Gaza serves as a serious barrier against terrorists, so it is only natural they would try to reach Israel by sea,” said the source.

Israeli Navy vessels are on guard specifically against bomb-laden fishing boasts and shooting attacks from the beaches. "A number of exceptional incidents have occurred off the coast lately," one official told the Hebrew daily Yediot Acharonot.

IDF sources said, however, that there has been no disruption of navy activities aimed at preventing arms smugglers from reaching Gaza, or terrorists from reaching Israel, by sea.

Palestinian Authority sources in Gaza said the new Hamas navy is focused on guarding the beaches from IDF marine operations. Hamas is also reportedly trying to prevent drug smugglers from entering Gaza by sea.

 

Meanwhile, Fatah PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has proposed an interesting solution to the smuggler problem under the Philadelphi Route between Gaza and Egypt. According to a report on Channel 1 TV, Abbas suggested to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in a meeting this week that Egypt flood the area with seawater.

 

A similar idea has been proposed in the past by former Gush Katif Regional Council head Araleh Tzur.


Mubarak has expressed concern regarding weapons smuggling between Gaza and Egypt, particularly after the discovery of numerous would-be terror bombers and large caches of weapons in the Sinai Peninsula this year.

 

The Egyptian president recently announced plans to raze dozens of houses on the Egyptian side of the border town of Rafiah in order to prevent smugglers from building more tunnels in the area.

 

Egypt has been widely blamed in Israel for not preventing the arms smuggling into Gaza.