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April 13, 2017 2:32 pm

Humanitarian ‘Aid’ to Gaza Hides Hamas Terror Supplies

avatar by Stephen M. Flatow / JNS.org

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Hamas-bound professional wetsuits that were recently intercepted by Israel. Photo: Israeli Defense Ministry.

JNS.org – Those cruel Israelis.

Palestinian residents of Gaza just want some soccer balls and perhaps a few Frisbees, to help break the monotony of life under siege. Yet the insensitive Israeli authorities, enforcing their ruthless blockade, recently intercepted a shipment of innocent sporting goods that would have brought a little light to the dark of lives of Gaza’s children.

That’s what you can expect pro-Palestinian human rights groups and their media supporters to report.

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The truth, however, is very different.

In an attempt to help Gazans, the Israeli government allows numerous trucks with supposedly “humanitarian” items to enter the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip each day.

It’s a big risk, because Hamas repeatedly has exploited Israel’s kindness by using these humanitarian shipments as means of smuggling in materials that can be used for terrorism. And they did so again earlier this month.

While examining a shipment of sporting goods bounds for Gaza, Israeli border inspectors at the Kerem Shalom crossing point discovered 30 professional diving suits earmarked for Hamas naval commandos, according to Israel’s Defense Ministry.

Two and a half years ago, five Hamas terrorists in scuba diving suits swam ashore at Israel’s Zikim Beach, north of Gaza. Fortunately, they were intercepted and killed by Israeli troops before they could reach their targets — innocent Israeli civilians.

The Israeli authorities have not forgotten that incident, and are on the outlook for attempts to smuggle scuba equipment to Gaza. The latest incident merely underscored this that.

Perhaps the most important revelation about how Hamas smugglers have taken advantage of Israeli — and American — kindness came from Dennis Ross, in an August 2014 op-ed in the Washington Post.

Ross served as a senior aide to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and as Middle East director at the National Security Council during 2009-2011. Those were the years when Hamas was starting to build terror tunnels to enable it to reach Israel from Gaza — and when the Israelis began restricting the importation of building materials that could be used for Hamas’ terror tunnels.

In response to the Israeli’s actions, the Obama administration sent Ross to the region — to pressure Israel.

In his op-ed, Ross admitted what he did: “I argued with Israeli leaders and security officials, telling them they needed to allow more construction materials, including cement, into Gaza so that housing, schools and basic infrastructure could be built. They countered that Hamas would misuse it, and they were right.”

Assured by the Obama administration’s insistence that the cement would not be misused, Israel allowed more of it to be imported. The result? Hamas built “a labyrinth of underground tunnels, bunkers, command posts and shelters for its leaders, fighters and rockets,” Ross acknowledged. They built them with “an estimated 600,000 tons of cement,” some of which was “diverted from construction materials allowed into Gaza,” he wrote.

The Trump administration needs to learn from Ross’ mistakes.

Don’t give Hamas the benefit of the doubt. Don’t pressure Israel to permit extra “humanitarian” shipments to Gaza. Concrete for homes can also be concrete for tunnels, and innocent-looking sports equipment can be — and has been — used for terror.

Stephen M. Flatow, a vice president of the Religious Zionists of America, is an attorney in New Jersey. He is the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in an Iranian-sponsored Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995.

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