Kerem Shalom Crossing.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Israeli authorities have foiled a Palestinian smuggling ring seeking to provide equipment to Hamas in Gaza, the Shin Bet (Israeli Security Agency) announced Monday.
In December 2016, Israeli forces arrested two members of the ring, which had been transporting illicit materials to the Gaza Strip through the Kerem Shalom crossing with Israel.
The two suspects, named as Nofal Abu Siriya, a merchant from the Gaza Strip, and Nader Massalma, a merchant from the West Bank, were arrested in a joint Shin Bet, IDF and Israel police operation last month and indicted in the Beersheba Magistrate’s Court on Monday.
According to the Shin Bet, the network had been smuggling dual-use equipment such as model airplanes and communications cables from the West Bank to the Gaza Strip for the Islamic terrorist group Hamas.
Hundreds of cameras, some of which were designated for Hamas, were also smuggled by the network. Importing dual-use goods, such as cameras, into the Gaza Strip requires a special permit.
According to the Shin Bet, the smuggled goods had been hidden inside of electronic goods, such as televisions, washing machines and refrigerators. During the investigation, the Shin Bet discovered that Massalma had assisted Abu Siriya in November in smuggling hundreds of cameras inside washing machines that had been imported from the West Bank to the Gaza Strip.
“The smuggling method that was discovered by the security forces underscores the efforts undertaken by Hamas, via its collaborators, in order to build up its strength and cynically exploit the commercial permits given by Israel for the benefit of the civilian population in the Gaza Strip,” the Shin Bet said.
“The security establishment views the situation with utmost gravity and will continue to locate and foil attempts to smuggle equipment, goods and dual-use materials to the Gaza Strip, which are liable to assist Hamas and other terrorist organizations to build up their strength. Those involved – in Israel, Judea and Samaria and the Gaza Strip – will be dealt with to the fullest extent of the law,” the agency added.
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