Stolen Gas for Gaza Terrorists

1,700 gas tanks hidden in a warehouse were found by Infrastructure Ministry inspectors, who say they were headed to Gaza for use by terrorists.

Ze'ev Ben-Yechiel,

Ashkelon's industrial zone
Ashkelon's industrial zone

In a Wednesday night raid on a warehouse in Ashkelon, inspectors from the Infrastructure Ministry seized about 85 tons of natural gas in 1,700 gas tanks. The ministry says the gas was manufactured illegally, and was intended to be smuggled into Gaza for use by terror groups.

The inspectors acted on a tip, discovering the location of the tanks in a southern Ashkelon warehouse.
Shimon Ben-Shlomo, a senior inspector with the Infrastructure Ministry, said that concerns over safety prompted his team to investigate the illegal storage. "The tanks were in a huge warehouse that is not suited for gas storage; it was filled with wooden platforms and had no fire extinguishing system in place. It posed a very grave threat to local residents," he said, adding that it was the largest-ever amount of gas seized in Israel.

A particularly worrying risk was that of rockets from Gaza. Several  have hit the industrial zone in which the warehouse was located. Ben-Shlomo pointed out that the warehouse was not fortified, and a direct hit from a Kassam or artillery piece could have caused a chain reaction of exploding gas tanks.

The ministry said that there is a black market for gas tanks, which are stolen and distributed through a pirate network. The tanks uncovered in Wednesday night’s raid were headed for Gaza, according to Ben-Shlomo.
"The demand for these tanks wasn't just about the gas, but mostly because these are iron tanks – a metal that can be easily used in the manufacturing or weaponry, rocket and mortar shells," said the inspector.
Police plan to arrest the owner of the warehouse, as well as others involved in the theft and unlawful storage of the tanks. Spokesmen for the local police said police also do expect to gain custody of those who planned to smuggle the gas into Gaza.