(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Two-and-a-half months after Operation Cast Lead, 22 tons of explosives, hundreds of mortar shells, dozens of rockets and anti-tank missiles, and 45 tons of raw material to manufacture arms have been smuggled into the Gaza Strip, Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) head Yuval Diskin told the cabinet Sunday.
Diskin, in a briefing that put the reports of Israeli attacks on arms-smuggling convoys as far afield as Sudan into some kind of perspective, said the Egyptians were trying harder to prevent the arms smuggling, but that the smuggling under the Philadelphi Corridor between Egypt and the Gaza Strip continued unabated.
Hamas is concerned about an escalation in its confrontation with Israel, especially in light of the freeze in talks for a prisoner exchange and the failure so far of its reconciliation talks with Fatah, Diskin said.
An additional round of Hamas-Fatah reconciliation talks was expected to be held Tuesday and Wednesday in Cairo, but nothing was expected to come of it, he said.
"The difference between the two sides is great," Diskin said.
Diskin, in his last briefing to the current government, said there had been a marked decline in rocket attacks on the western Negev, and that in the last few days only one - fired by a small terrorist organization - hit inside Israel.
Hamas was taking measures to stop small organizations from firing rockets and had signed an agreement with Islamic Jihad to prevent rocket fire for the short term, he said.
Nevertheless, Diskin warned that the small terrorist organizations were plotting to kidnap soldiers, and were also planning attacks inside Israel - either via Sinai, or with the aid of terrorist organizations in Judea and Samaria.
According to Diskin, Hamas has failed in efforts to secure a new cease-fire agreement with Israel, reconcile with Fatah, and rehabilitate the Gaza Strip.
Its two overarching goals at present, he said, were to rebuild Gaza and rehabilitate its rocket manufacturing capabilities.