Security agents of the Israel Airport Authority (IAA) discovered two tons of material used to manufacture explosives on a truck supposedly delivering humanitarian aid for residents of the Palestinian Authority. The discovery was made Monday afternoon at the IDF checkpoint at the Kerem
The quantity of material discovered was sufficient for hundreds of rockets.
Shalom Crossing into southern Gaza, a transit point for goods from Egypt destined for the PA.
The bomb-making ingredient was found by IAA officials during routine and random inspections of vehicles supposedly carrying humanitarian supplies into southern Gaza. According to security sources, the chemical compound, made from fertilizer, is used as fuel for PA rockets and in the manufacture of incendiary devices. The quantity of material discovered was sufficient for hundreds of rockets.
Security officials have yet to determine the source and destination of the explosives supplies. The investigation continues.
The smuggling incident was the second of its kind in less than a month. In late December, IDF soldiers discovered 6.5 tons of potassium nitrate hidden in sacks marked "sugar" and earmarked for needy Arabs in Gaza. Potassium nitrate is a banned substance in Gaza, Judea and Samaria due to its use by terrorists for the manufacturing of explosives and Kassam rockets. The bags were marked as humanitarian aid from the European Union, Gaza's biggest source of assistance.
While security officials investigating the December case do not assume that the potassium nitrate was sent by the European Union, they have noted that terrorist groups have learned to take advantage of such shipments. An IDF source said at the time, "This is another example of how the terror organizations exploit the humanitarian aid that is delivered to the Palestinian population in Gaza with Israel's approval."
PM Olmert Opposes Gaza Incursion
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee
Terrorist groups have learned to take advantage of such shipments.
Monday that Israel was at "war" with Arab terrorists in Gaza, but said he opposed a full-scale invasion of the area "right now."
The prime minister explained his position: "Hundreds of fatalities amongst terror organizations in Gaza in the last year are a heavy price for the terror groups to have paid. I highly recommend that we do not get involved in operations and costs out of all proportion to the issues we are dealing with."
At the same time, Olmert stressed that he did not underestimate the severity of Kassam attacks on Sderot and other Jewish communities located near Gaza.
Israel Lifting Fuel Sanctions
The random discovery of the bomb-making material last month and on Monday did not change Defense Minister Ehud Barak's decision to drop fuel sanctions imposed on Gaza by the government last month.
The cutbacks in fuel supplies were implemented as part of the effort to isolate and pressure the Hamas government in Gaza. The High Court of Justice heard several petitions against the move. On Thursday, the state submitted a motion in which it announced the suspension of the punitive measures.
Canada to Provide Aid
In addition to the assistance from the EU for the PA, Canadian Foreign Minister Maxime Bernier announced that his government would allocate $300 million for the PA over the course of the next five years. The money will be used to reform the PA and to fund its security forces, Bernier said.
The PA security forces have begun patrolling Shechem and Bethlehem in an effort to prove that the PA is able to fight terrorism and control crime. Terrorists who are caught by PA forces serve up to three months in prison and then become members of the force, provided with weapons and a salary from the PA.