Arms smuggling to the Gaza Strip has increased as a result of the recent upheaval in the Middle East, Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said Thursday.

Speaking to reporters and members of the foreign diplomatic corps in Israel, Ayalon said Iran and other enemy states had increased their attempts to get weapons and ammunition to Hamas in Gaza, as part of their efforts to exploit the lawlessness and uncertainty currently gripping the Sinai Peninsula.

Ayalon presented statistics showing that Israel’s recent easing of restrictions had led to an economic growth of 9 percent in the West Bank and 16% in the Gaza Strip.

“Israel aspires to continue the easing measures,” he stated. “At the same time, the complexities of this region and the recent dramatic changes have intensified the threat of arms smuggling that endangers Israeli citizens in the southern and central parts of the country.”

Ayalon took the opportunity to issue a call for assistance in the fight against the armament of Hamas, saying, “We call on the international community and all in the region who treasure life to join forces to prevent the arms smuggling.

The rockets threaten not only Israeli citizens, but also the citizens of the Gaza Strip who also long for a normal life.”

He added that “the continuation of the smuggling will interfere with Israel’s ability to ease restrictions for Gaza residents.

All those who value life, whether they are Egyptian, Tunisian, Jordanian, Israeli or Palestinian, together with the international community, must stop the Iranian infiltration.”


Asked about unilateral recognitions of Palestinian statehood, Ayalon said such moves were “virtual” and “won’t change the reality on the ground. Whoever deludes the Palestinians into thinking that they can establish a state unilaterally, without negotiations, is diminishing the chances for peace and for a Palestinian state.”

Ayalon held his briefing with Maj.- Gen. Eitan Dangot, head of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories.

Dangot said the recent transfer of the conveyor belt shipping corridor at the Karni border crossing with Gaza to the nearby Kerem Shalom crossing would not only increase security for Israeli personnel, but allow the terminal to work more efficiently than before.

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