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May 17, 2016 6:38 am

Hamas Exploits Easing of Gaza Blockade to Smuggle More Weapons

avatar by Steven Emerson

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A man stands near the Rafah crossing into Gaza. Photo: wiki commons.

A man stands near the Rafah crossing into Gaza. Photo: wiki commons.

Palestinian terrorist groups continue to exploit Israel’s relaxation of the Gaza naval blockade to smuggle weapons meant to strike the Jewish state, Israel’s domestic intelligence agency, the Shin Bet, said in a Times of Israel report.

Israel’s Navy detained a Hamas-affiliated operative last month, who was accused of smuggling weapons and outlawed building materials into the Gaza Strip. Under interrogation, Salim Jamal Hassan Naman admitted that he helped smuggle in “materials used in the production of rockets, like fiberglass resin,” the Shin Bet said.

In April, Israel authorized Gaza’s boats to operate up to nine nautical miles from the shores, extending the previously permitted distance of six miles. Naman was detained after deviating beyond the new threshold. Though the operative is most closely aligned with Hamas, he acknowledged that the smuggling operation involved supplying weapons to various Palestinian terrorist organizations.

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Naman also revealed Hamas’ plans to exploit Gazan fisherman as a “camouflage” for the group’s terrorist operations.

“The information revealed in this interrogation, along with the interrogations of the other Hamas terror operatives who have been arrested recently, reveal another aspect of the numerous efforts made by Hamas in order to prepare itself for advancing its violent terrorist actions. This time, it’s through taking advantage of the relief provided by Israel for the population of Gazan fisherman,” the Shin Bet said.

Hamas continues to focus its efforts on enhancing its terrorist capabilities to confront Israel militarily, and to terrorize its population. Instead of utilizing the extra nautical miles off the coast to the benefit of Gazan fisherman, Hamas squanders the opportunity to improve the Strip’s economic situation. Whether by rebuilding its underground tunnel infrastructure or exploiting naval smuggling opportunities, Hamas clearly prioritizes its violent Jihad against Israel over the well-being of its citizens.

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

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