In June 2010, Israeli intelligence issued a warning that “Hamas uses cement for military needs,” especially in the construction of munitions supply tunnels.
Yet in November 2011, the Israel Civil Administration, which reports to the Israel Ministry of Defense, approved the shipment of massive cement supplies for the construction of 75 United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) school buildings in Gaza.
At the time, our news agency asked the Israel Civil Administration if any of the contractors in Gaza who received the cement deliveries were connected to terror groups or to the Gaza regime itself, which is controlled by Hamas.
The Israel Civil Administration responded that it did not know the identities of the contractors who received the cement.
We also asked sources in Israeli intelligence at the time if there had been any change in their assessment that Hamas could indeed use the cement for lethal purposes.
The answer from Israeli intelligence was that there had been no change in that assessment.
One entity did praise the transfer of cement into Gaza: UNRWA.
Two thirds of the Arab population in Gaza dwell in UNRWA facilities, under the UNRWA premise and promise of the right of return to the ancestral villages they left in 1948 – many of which no longer exist.
On December 7, 2011, UNRWA issued an extensive report that lauded the vast amount of cement smuggled through the Gaza tunnels, attributing recent economic growth and improvement of humanitarian conditions in Gaza to the tunnels. UNRWA claimed they increased employment in Gaza, causing “Construction jobs to grow by more than 9,400, increasing by 3.5 times relative to first half 2010.”
On December 24, 2011, Reuters echoed the UNRWA press release, reporting about Gaza residents whose economic well being had been greatly improved by uninhibited smuggling of cement through the tunnels.
Reuters mentioned only in the fourth paragraph of its story that there was an Israeli “claim” that these tunnels were used by the Hamas regime in Gaza to carry out “sporadic” attacks.
Since the Western Negev regional security chief estimates that nearly 30,000 aerial attacks have been launched from Gaza in approximately ten years, it would be hard to describe these as “sporadic” attacks.
What Reuters neglected to report was that the “administrators union” of UNRWA fell into the hands of Hamas during union elections. In other words, Hamas controls funds and supplies that are dispatched to UNRWA in Gaza.
This week, a concrete laden terror tunnel was discovered - it led from Gaza to a nursery school in a kibbutz not far from the Gaza border.
It was estimated that the tunnel took at least eighteen months to dig and construct.
In other words, work began on the tunnel just after Israel supplied the cement to Gaza.
Who profited from the supply of cement to Gaza? One entity: NESHER, Israel’s cement monopoly, which did not supply cement as a “gratuity” to Gaza.
And who campaigned for the delivery of cement to Gaza? Leading human rights organizations, financed by the New Israel Fund.
We asked for a response from these human rights groups, since the Gaza regime used that cement to construct a lethal tunnel. No response has been received.
To reiterate, Reuters had reported that the tunnels were causing an “economic boom.”
“Boom” would have conveyed a more accurate reality if the tunnel under the kibbutz nursery school had not been discovered.
David Bedein runs news investigations that rely on private support.