Navy commander Maj.-Gen. David Ben Ba'ashat said Sunday that it is easier for Palestinian terror groups to smuggle arms from Egypt by sea than by land.
Video: IDF's Spokesperson Office
The Navy thwarted an attempt to smuggle military-grade explosives into Gaza by sea on Sunday, the second such attempt in less than two weeks.
"We are here to prevent terror groups from rebuilding their infrastructure. They are highly motivated and to my regret they will continue to be so in the future. In both operations, on Independence Day and yesterday, we prevented a ton of explosives from reaching terror groups," he said.
IDF experts said the explosives were meant to be used in making Qassam rockets and roadside bombs. "It is like flour which can be used for many things, from bombs to Qassams," one expert said.
'Smugglers receive large amounts of money'
Ben Ba'ashat said in both operations humble looking Palestinian civilians asked for permission to anchor their boat in Gaza's fishing port. On both occasions the Palestinian fishermen raised suspicions among soldiers who move to inspect their boats.
According to Ben Ba’ashat, the sea remains easiest way to smuggle arms into Gaza.
“One small boat can carry half a ton of explosives,” he said.
“It’s difficult to transfer such quantities by land. You can transfer Kalashnikov rifles, but carrying 14 sacks isn’t that simple. The smugglers receive large amounts of money, and they work in close cooperation with terror organizations. There is great value in catching them; I’m certain that they have much to tell beyond the smuggling itself.”
Ben Ba’ashat admits that the smugglers take advantage of the permits granted to small fishing boats; it is more difficult to detect them among all the other boats. However, there is no intention of halting Palestinian fishing at this stage, he adds.
“This is their only source of income, and most have no connection to the smuggling. As long as we have solutions, we prefer to let the fishing continue,” he said.