Smuggling tunnel in Gaza
Photo: AFP
Photo: Gil Yohanan
Shin Bet Director Yuval Diskin
Photo: Gil Yohanan

Smuggling to Gaza continues, says Shin Bet chief

Despite Israeli, Egyptian efforts to stop smuggling into Gaza Strip, Yuval Diskin tells cabinet ministers dozens of tons of explosives, missiles smuggled into Strip since end of Operation Cast Lead; adds Hamas fears escalation with Israel

Operation Cast Lead and Israel's various prevention methods, seem to have left no impression on Hamas, that continues to smuggle dozens of tons of explosives and antitank and antiaircraft missiles into the Gaza Strip, Shin Bet Director Yuval Diskin told cabinet ministers on Sunday.


According to Diskin, since the end of the military operation in early 2009, 22 tons of explosives, 45 tons of raw materials for the production of weapons, dozens of rockets, hundreds of mortar shells and dozens of antitank and antiaircraft missiles were smuggled into the Strip.


The Shin Bet chief added that Egypt is doing its part in the effort to prevent arms smuggling, and that an improvement in the neighboring country's activity has been noted, but still, smuggling through the Philadelphi route continues.


Diskin said terror organizations in the Gaza Strip were planning to kidnap more soldiers, and pointed out a rise in attempts of smaller Palestinian organizations in Gaza to carry out attacks in Israel, through Sinai, or local organizations in the West Bank.


During his weekly briefing, Diskin said Hamas feared an escalation with Israel: "Hamas's military wing is constantly watched for fear of an escalation, especially in light of the deadlock reached around the prisoner exchange deal and Hamas-Fatah relations.


"There is indeed a drop in rockets, only one rocket from a small organization was fired in recent days. There are two reasons for this: Hamas is not interested in an escalation or another confrontation with Israel, and as a result, Hamas is carrying out arrests before attacks.


"Hamas has also signed an agreement with the Islamic Jihad to abstain from such attacks in the near future."


Diskin added that Hamas has failed to make a breakthrough in any of its burning issues, including reaching a truce agreement with Israel, that has been held up due to the Shalit issue, inter-Palestinian reconciliation efforts, and rebuilding the Gaza Strip.


"Because of this," said Diskin, "Hamas is rethinking its moves, either to go back to past operational patterns, meaning a popular protest and raising international support, or there's the other option of resuming terror activity.


"It was, and still is Hamas's interest to rebuild Gaza and its missile lineup, and it is working on both planes."


The Shin Bet chief said that Hamas was currently planning massive support rallies to take place at al-Aqsa Mosque in support of Israeli Arabs. However, Diskin said he did not expect any riots to take place among Israeli Arabs on Land Day.


פרסום ראשון: 03.29.09, 15:37
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