Weapons smuggling into Gaza rising

Shin Bet chief says smuggling increased four-fold since before disengagement.

January 10, 2006 17:23
2 minute read.

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Since the disengagement from Gush Katif, there has been a significant increase in the amount of weapons and explosives smuggled into the Gaza Strip, Yuval Diskin, head of the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), told a meeting of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Tuesday. "The amount of weapons and explosives smuggled into the Gaza Strip from Egypt has grown drastically, by more than 300 percent," Diskin told the committee, which convened in his Tel Aviv office. "If before the disengagement they smuggled in 200 to 300 rifles a month, they are now smuggling in close to 3,000." Since the pullout, Diskin said, Palestinians have smuggled three anti-aircraft missiles into Gaza compared to none before disengagement. He added that close to 200 RPGs and tons of explosives were also smuggled into Gaza on a monthly basis. "It is clear that our withdrawal from the Philadelphi Corridor and our reliance on the Egyptians has proven to be a failure," committee chairman Yuval Steinitz said. "The Egyptians are not acting like the Jordanians, who prevent weapons from being smuggled across the border. They sometimes stop the smuggling and sometimes don't, but in reality their behavior has drastically increased the amount of weapons smuggled into Gaza." Terror organizations, Diskin said, have used the last few months to build up their military forces and to develop long-range Kassam rockets. With external assistance, he warned, the terror groups would have long-range rocket capability within a matter of months. The Palestinians, he said, were also drafting plans for large-scale terror attacks that included digging tunnels from Gaza into Israel. The committee meeting turned stormy after Diskin criticized the police's failure to effectively prevent settlers from uprooting Palestinian olive orchards. Close to 100 olive trees were found vandalized and uprooted last Friday near the settlement of Maon in the Hebron Hills. Police suspect that settlers were behind the act. "This phenomenon repeats itself every year," Diskin said. "The problem is that there is no real effective enforcement of the law, especially when it comes to the hilltop youth. The Shin Bet knows who has been uprooting trees near the settlements of Yitzhar and Itamar, but nothing is done to the perpetrators." Meretz MK Ron Cohen responded sharply and demanded that the Shin Bet ambush the perpetrators and if necessary "shoot them in their legs." Committee members from the Right immediately accused Cohen of inciting to violence and demanded that he apologize.

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