Israel foils smuggling of explosive materials to Gaza in medical crates

Israeli authorities regular foil smuggling attempts at crossings into Hamas-run Gaza Strip

February 4, 2018 11:57
2 minute read.
explosive materials

Explosive materials discovered inside crates of medical supplies at the Kerem Shalom Crossing into the Gaza Strip. (photo credit: DEFENSE MINISTRY)

Israeli authorities at the Kerem Shalom Crossing foiled an attempt to smuggle explosive components into the Gaza Strip to be used for long-range projectiles, the Defense Ministry said in a statement on Sunday.

The explosives, hidden inside packages of medical supplies, were intercepted by security authorities this past week after crates with containers of medical equipment destined for the Strip were removed and packages inside the containers were taken to a laboratory for additional testing.

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The laboratory test was carried out using advanced equipment that checks a wide range of materials such as gases, liquids, powders, solids, metals and other materials.

The materials seized by authorities were then identified as a central component in the preparation of explosive charges and in the high-trajectory projectiles fired toward Israel from the Gaza Strip.

The laboratory that identified the materials removed in the medical shipment was set up several months ago at the Kerem Shalom crossing in order to locate contraband whose entry into the Strip is forbidden for fear of reaching terrorist groups like Hamas or Islamic Jihad.

The laboratory is a joint project of the Crossings Authority, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and the Israel Police’s crossing department, whose operational purpose is to identify the type of material within a short period of time.

Israeli authorities, including the Crossing Authority, together with Shin Bet, COGAT, Israeli Police and Israel Tax Authority, regularly intercept illicit goods heading for Hamas at crossings from Israel into the Strip, including an attempt to smuggle explosive material hidden inside spools of medical material at the Erez Crossing in May.

The Kerem Shalom crossing is the sole commercial crossing into the Hamas-run enclave, which UN Middle East envoy Nickolay Mladenov warned Tuesday was on the verge of full collapse, something which would have security implications for the region.

“I am particularly worried about the situation in Gaza. I really believe that we are on the brink of another explosion which is not in the interest of anyone and we must do everything we can to prevent it,” Mladenov told The Jerusalem Post.

“Every escalation in Gaza has been deadlier than the previous one,” he continued. “The last one was pretty devastating and I am worried that the next one, should it occur, it would be really, really devastating for the people in Gaza and the region, with consequences in Israel and Egypt.”

Hadashot news reported Saturday evening that Israeli security officials have for the first time weighed the idea of sending food and medicine into the Gaza Strip in an effort to prevent the deteriorating conditions from spiraling into violence. Israel has until now only facilitated the transfer of goods into the Strip, but has not directly sent humanitarian aid.

Tensions have been high along the Gaza-Israel border in recent months. More than two dozen projectiles have been fired toward southern Israel since the IDF discovered and destroyed a cross-border Islamic Jihad attack tunnel in late October, and after the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital by US President Donald Trump.

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