Photo: Defense Establishment
Arms that were smuggled into Gaza
Photo: Defense Establishment
Photo: The Knesset Channel
Army Chief Halutz. 'Economic sanctions not the answer'
Photo: The Knesset Channel

Top officer: Gaza stocking arms

In briefing to Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, senior officer says some one and-a-half tons of explosives have been smuggled into Strip since disengagement. Meanwhile, army Chief Halutz says economic pressure on Hamas won't yield results

Ever since the Israeli pullout from Gush Katif and Gaza last summer, one-and-a-half tons of explosives have been smuggled into the Gaza Strip, a senior IDF Operations Branch officer told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee during a briefing Tuesday.


According to the officer, the smuggling business in Gaza was thriving, despite the Egyptians' strenuous efforts to foil these activities and in spite of a number of successful operations to thwart smuggling attempts on the Philadelphi route and at the Rafah crossing.


"Gaza is arming itself," the officer stated, adding that the army was aware of 12 Grad-type Katyusha rockets smuggled into Gaza, as well as dozens of RPGs and other rockets.


IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz, who also took part in the meeting, addressed the Palestinian issue and the Iranian nuclear threat. Halutz said he did not believe that clashes between rivaling factions in the Palestinian Authority – most notably between Hamas and Fatah – would lead to civil war. No side wants to see the conflict resolved by force, he stated.


The army chief also stated that he did not think economic pressure on the Hamas-led government would cause the Palestinian population to withdraw its support in the movement. In fact, Halutz said, such pressure might yield the exact opposite outcome.


Referring to Iran's nuclear program, Halutz said that if the Muslim republic manages to obtain nuclear weapons, it would present an existential threat to Israel. According to intelligence estimates, he said, Iran would be in possession of nuclear weapons by 2008 to 2010.


The army chief said that despite more optimistic assessments from the Americans, who predicted the Iranians wouldn't have developed the bomb until 2012-2015, Israel must prepare for the possibility of a more imminent threat.


פרסום ראשון: 05.23.06, 15:00
 new comment
This will delete your current comment