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(photo credit: Channel 2)
An IDF navy patrol ship discovered a fishing boat making its way from Egypt to Gaza on Sunday bearing 16 sacks, or approximately half a ton, of explosives and mines.
A senior naval officer told Channel 2 that there were two people on board the ship. They were arrested and taken for questioning by the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency). The ship was taken to the naval base in Ashdod.
The officer noted that although the ship was small, it was very fast, traveling at a speed of some 35 knots. He noted that although the IDF had no advanced information on the ship's arrival, soldiers grew suspicious when they saw it sailing in a forbidden area.
The navy ship fired warning shots and called on the vessel to stop. When troops moved in to intercept the boat, the Palestinian crew started throwing bags overboard.
This was the fifth time since the disengagement from the Gaza Strip in August 2005 that an attempt to smuggle weapons or explosives by sea was thwarted.
One of the most significant attempts occurred around Independence Day, when Palestinians attempted to smuggle half a ton of high-quality explosives by sea.
An IDF warship patrolling the waters off the Gaza Strip on May 4 spotted a suspicious shipping vessel crossing into Israeli waters from Egypt. After the IDF called out to it, the Palestinian boat hid behind another fishing boat, and the crew began to heave large sacks into the water.
Last week, the navy sent an underwater retrieval unit to inspect the sacks' contents. A robot was sent down, and located 13 sacks at a depth of 30 meters which contained high-quality explosives that had been scavenged, said Maj. Oren Raba, head of the navy underwater retrieval unit. The explosives were taken from dismantled mines in the Sinai Peninsula.
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