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May 4, 2016 6:00 am

Hamas Caught Smuggling Rocket Material as Israel Considers Re-Opening Gaza Border

avatar by Steven Emerson

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A rocket fired from the Gaza Strip. Photo: Alalam.

A rocket fired from the Gaza Strip. Photo: Alalam.

Israel’s Tax Authority says that it intercepted roughly four tons of ammonium chloride — enough to produce hundreds of rockets — that were being smuggled into the Gaza Strip.

The chemical was hidden in salt shipments to Gaza early last month, which were transported through the Nitzana crossing between Egypt and Israel.

“Ammonium chloride is defined as a dual-use substance and its passage into the Gaza Strip requires a permit since it is liable to be used by Gaza-based terrorist organizations – such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad – in the production of long-range rockets,” a Tax Authority statement said.

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The Shin Bet, Israel’s domestic intelligence agency, believes that the salt importer has “ties to the Hamas military wing” and “sought to bring the material into the Strip for use in Hamas’s production facilities.”

Israeli authorities have thwarted dozens of attempts to smuggle prohibited material into Gaza. This latest interdiction reinforces the fact that Hamas and other terrorist organizations in Gaza continue to try to smuggle material intended for terrorist activities cloaked as goods meant for Gaza’s civilians.

Despite deeply concerning smuggling activities, Israel plans to reopen the Erez crossing into Gaza following eight years of closure.

“It is in our interests that a significant amount of truckloads of food continues to go to Gaza…It is our interest that Gazans live in dignity. Both from a humanitarian point of view and because this is a way to protect the peace, in addition to existing security deterrents,” a spokesperson for Israel’s defense minister Moshe Ya’alon said in a statement.

The Defense Ministry revealed that 513 trucks of humanitarian and commercial goods entered the Gaza Strip on Sunday alone.

Many in the international community demand that Israel open all border crossings and end the blockade of Gaza. Unfortunately, many of the individuals and states pressuring Israel overlook the fact that Gaza’s rulers exploit existing border entry points to enhance their terrorist infrastructure at the expense of local reconstruction efforts.

Until Hamas’ ceases to prioritize its jihad against Israel over the well-being of its citizens, Palestinians in Gaza will continue to suffer. In the meantime, the overwhelming evidence confirms that Israel is going above and beyond to balance its legitimate security considerations with humanitarian concerns in Gaza.

Steven Emerson is the Executive Director the Investigative Project on Terrorism (www.investigativeproject.org) where this article first appeared.

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