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Rafah tunnel Photo: AFP
Rafah tunnel Photo: AFP
 
 

Shin Bet: Egypt doing little to stop Gaza arms smugglers

New security agency report says Cairo's grip on Gaza border lax; Strip's militant groups' weapon caches pose growing threat to Israel

Hanan Greenberg
Published: 05.12.11, 22:13 / Israel News

A Shin Bet document paints a bleak picture of Gaza arms smuggling operations and states that the potential threat they pose to Israel has increased since the Egyptian revolution.

 

According to Shin Bet data, hundreds of rockets capable of hitting targets within a 12-25 mile range, have been smuggled into the Gaza Strip since last year.

 

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In addition, some 1,000 mortar shells, dozens of anti-tank missiles and tons of both explosives and explosive-manufacturing materials, have found their way into the hands of Gaza militants in the past year.

 

During the Mubarak era, Egypt applied substantial efforts to foiling weapon smuggling operations. Among those were the underground steel wall project, meant to physically block smuggling tunnels, which is still under construction; and the deployment of motion sensors along the border.

 

Still, the Shin Bet said Egypt's effort did little to significantly reduce weapons smuggling across its border with Gaza. The report does qualify the statement, saying the dismal results can be attributed, in part, to objective difficulties, like the country's 745-mile border with Sudan, and its trouble contriving the tunnel-riddled Rafah area.

 

Currently, Cairo is busy trying to stabilize the new regime, meaning its tight border control has become lax, the report said.

 

The Shin Bet said that Iran plays a key role in assisting Islamic Jihad and Hamas – which are eager to acquire weapons that would put them on equal footing vis-à-vis the IDF – in obtaining such weapons.

 

Gaza's militant groups are interested in increasing their ability to target the Israeli home front, mostly by utilizing long-range rockets; and Iran, according to the Shin Bet, is directly involved in supplying such weapons.

 

The Shin Bet draws the main smuggling route starting in Iran, through to Sudan, on to Egypt, then to the Sinai Peninsula and from there into Gaza.

 

 

 

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