Exposed
How Hamas Smuggled Goods From Israel During War

3 Israeli businessmen just tip of iceberg as operatives funneled thousands of tons of materials into Hamas's war machine.

Ari Yashar ,

Hamas tunnels (illustration)
Hamas tunnels (illustration)
Flash 90

The Israel Security Agency (ISA, or Shin Bet) revealed on Monday that the three Israeli businessmen who were indicted of smuggling goods to Hamas in Gaza were just the tip of a massive smuggling ring, which was arming the terrorist organization even during last summer's war.

In an operation that had the ISA, Israel Police, Israel Tax Authority and State Attorney's Office all work together aided by the Defense Ministry, the IDF and the Justice Ministry, Israel was able to expose the Hamas smuggling network and clamp down on it.

Through the network Hamas purchased and brought through the Kerem Shalom Crossing thousands of tons of raw materials used to build terror attack tunnels, training facilities and weapons of various types.

ISA noted that in many cases, the materials purchased in Israel were brought over the Kerem Shalom Crossing and then transported directly to Hamas training bases and terrorist installations, without even bothering to use a stop-over point to try and hide the tracks of the goods.

So far 26 suspects have been investigated in the operation, among them Israeli citizens, who took part in supplying, storing and smuggling the materials over the border.

Aside from the 26 investigated by the ISA, additional suspects are being investigated by the police and Israel Tax Authority, with truckloads of materials seized prior to being smuggled into the Hamas terror stronghold of Gaza.

Several serious indictments, including those for security offenses, have been filed in the Be'er Sheva district court, and requests to confiscate the seized vehicles and materials have been filed as well.

How did Hamas do it?

ISA, in announcing the operation, explained how exactly the smuggling ring worked.

Kerem Shalom Crossing is the only passage for merchandise and goods from Israel into Gaza, and even during Operation Protective Edge it was left open to provide Gaza's civilian population with necessities - a fact which Hamas took advantage of.

Hamas sent registered Palestinian Arab merchants to buy various raw materials, including iron and iron goods, electrical and communications equipment, fiber optic cables, drills and other digging equipment, as well as concrete.

These goods were bought from Israeli, foreign and Palestinian Authority-based suppliers. ISA notes that the goods were stored by elements in Israel, even though they knew the goods were headed for Gaza and lacked permits, and knew or guessed they would end up in Hamas's hands.

In many instances, the smuggling materials were hidden among consignments that had permits, and in one extreme example materials used to manufacture explosives were hidden in a container of humanitarian equipment.

And so Hamas was able to obtain materials to strengthen its military force directly from Israel, even as Egypt clamped down on Hamas smuggling tunnels from Sinai in an operation that has in recent months evolved into a massive buffer zone project.

Hamas's smuggling operatives

The Gaza-based terrorists who were involved in operating the smuggling ring included Mohammed Oda, a Hamas operative who purchased hundreds of tons of iron and galvanized pipes which were transported directly to Hamas training facilities.

Another Hamas operative, Adnan Seir, took part in the ring, as did Mohammed Abu Halima, who purchased tons of pipes and iron which were transported directly to Hamas installations built on the ruins of former Jewish communities in Gush Katif.

The Al-Tzalah Association was also involved, it being affiliated with Hamas.

"The case underscores - yet again - how Hamas cynically exploits Israel's humanitarian approach and how Hamas does not hesitate to endanger the basic interests of the Palestinian public in its efforts to rebuild its Gaza-based military capabilities," stated ISA.

ISA noted Israeli authorities will tighten supervision on goods designated for Gaza and continue to combat smuggling to the terrorist organization.



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