Diskin: Gaza smuggling skyrocketing

Shin Bet head: Terror groups learning Israeli weaknesses from war.

tzahi hanegbi  224.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
tzahi hanegbi 224.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Shin Bet head Yuval Diskin reiterated on Tuesday at a meeting of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that Palestinian terrorist organizations were studying the Lebanese-Israeli war to learn how to play on Israel's weaker points. Diskin said the West Bank has become increasingly violent, especially in the area of Samaria. Following last summer's withdrawal from the four communities in northern Samaria, the intelligence community has found it difficult to control the area and gather information. "Samaria has become the land of Islamic Jihad following the disengagement," he said. Weapons smuggling through the Rafah crossing has gone up exponentially since the pullout, Diskin warned, adding that "Rafah will soon be the garden of Eden of weapons smuggling." He estimated that approximately 15,000 guns, 4 million bullets, 2,300 pistols, 38 rockets, dozens of anti-tank missiles, 15 tons of TNT, 400 RPGs, and 10-15 Katyushas like those used in Lebanon had been smuggled into Gaza from Egypt so far - and, he said, those are just the ones we know about. After three to five years of this kind of weapons transfer, he warned, Israel will face a situation similar to south Lebanon. "At this point, anybody who wants to smuggle something through the Philadelphi route can apparently do so," Diskin said. "You can smuggle anything through Philadelphi except maybe a tank or plane." MK Natan Sharansky (Likud) responded to Diskin's report, saying, "For ten years, we've been hearing these types of reports, but there has never been such an immediate need for action. Every kind of weapon is getting into the Gaza Strip, and Hamas is establishing a terrorist army. It is no longer possible to say they didn't warn us." Diskin also told the committee that during the course of the war, the Shin Bet had offered its investigative services to the IDF in order to help interrogate the captives taken during the war. He said the Shin Bet has more professional, proven methods of interrogation, which is why they offered to help the army. The IDF, however, declined the offer. During the meeting, tensions between committee MKs and Committee Chairman Tzahi Hanegbi flared up once again when the chairman blocked a request by MK Effi Eitam to discuss Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's formation of two inquiry committees. The majority of MKs on the committee supported an investigation by a subcommittee of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, as well as a state inquiry, which would be allowed to dismiss top officials. MKs said that Hanegbi's actions over the past several weeks have turned the committee into a useless entity. "I spoke to Hanegbi this morning with a request to hold an urgent discussion on the issue [of a state inquiry commission], and unfortunately, Hanegbi was caught up in all sorts of procedural issues and announced that he would not allow the discussion," MK Matan Vilna'i said. Hanegbi responded by saying that the committee members were not acting according to regulations and had not officially called to convene a committee meeting. If they did, Hanegbi said, he would bring up the topic.