The Washington Institute for Near East Policy has determined Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps has been directing rocket and other weapon shipments through both Asia and Africa. In a report, the institute said all shipments, overseen by Hamas headquarters in Damascus, Syria, ended in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula for smuggling into the Gaza Strip.

“The arms travel overland to Egypt, through a variety of routes that cross Yemen, Eritrea, Ethiopia, and South Africa and eventually meet in Sudan, where they are moved to Egypt’s Sinai desert,” the report, titled “Hamas Arms Smuggling: Egypt’s Challenge, said. “After the materiel enters the Sinai, it is transferred into Gaza via tunnels underneath the Philadelphi Corridor, the Gaza-Egypt border that runs through the city of Rafah.”

Yoram Cohen, the second-ranking official in the Israel Security Agency, and Matthew Levitt, a former FBI, authored the report, which was dated on Monday.

“…The arms-smuggling network is directed by Hamas offices in Damascus and aided by Iran’s [Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC)], which provides the majority of the weaponry,” the report said.

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Messrs. Cohen and Levitt said the IRGC has also sought to smuggle weapons to the Hamas regime through the Mediterranean Sea, and they said ships drop the weapons in barrels for retrieval by Palestinian fishermen.

“Less frequently, arms are moved to Gaza via the Mediterranean Sea,” the report said. “The weapons are deposited in waterproof barrels submerged below the surface and tied to buoys eventually retrieved by fishermen.”

The report said weapons smuggling marked a leading element in Hamas’ military strategy. The report said Egyptian security forces in the eastern Sinai, despite U.S. training and equipment, remain ineffective in stopping the intensification of the weapons flow or in prosecuting suspected smugglers.

“Egypt’s approach to countering Hamas’s extensive network of smuggling tunnels has been tentative, generally limited to exposing tunnel openings and seizing weapons arsenals inside the Sinai Peninsula,” the report said. “In most cases, following the exposure of a tunnel, Egyptian forces have either placed a guard at the mouth of the tunnel or blocked the tunnel entrance, rather than taking steps to demolish the tunnel completely. As such, smugglers have been able to employ these tunnels again after a short interval.”

In 2008, the report said, Hamas moved from deployment of its indigenous Qassam-class, short-range rockets to the Iranian variant of the Grad BM-21 rocket. The latter rocket, dismantled for transport through Hamas tunnels, was said to have a range of more than 14 miles and a warhead of up to 14 pounds.

“These Grads, an Iranian-produced version of the Chinese-designed rocket, increase the reach of Hamas into Israel, making them a sought-after commodity and well worth the effort and expense of smuggling them all the way from Iran,” the report said.

David Bedein can be reached at dbedein@israelbehindthenews.com

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David Bedein is an MSW community organizer and an investigative journalist.   In 1987, Bedein established the Israel Resource News Agency at Beit Agron to accompany foreign journalists in their coverage of Israel, to balance the media lobbies established by the PLO and their allies.   Mr. Bedein has reported for news outlets such as CNN Radio, Makor Rishon, Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, BBC and The Jerusalem Post, For four years, Mr. Bedein acted as the Middle East correspondent for The Philadelphia Bulletin, writing 1,062 articles until the newspaper ceased operation in 2010. Bedein has covered breaking Middle East negotiations in Oslo, Ottawa, Shepherdstown, The Wye Plantation, Annapolis, Geneva, Nicosia, Washington, D.C., London, Bonn, and Vienna. Bedein has overseen investigative studies of the Palestinian Authority, the Expulsion Process from Gush Katif and Samaria, The Peres Center for Peace, Peace Now, The International Center for Economic Cooperation of Yossi Beilin, the ISM, Adalah, and the New Israel Fund.   Since 2005, Bedein has also served as Director of the Center for Near East Policy Research.   A focus of the center's investigations is The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). In that context, Bedein authored Roadblock to Peace: How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict - UNRWA Policies Reconsidered, which caps Bedein's 28 years of investigations of UNRWA. The Center for Near East Policy Research has been instrumental in reaching elected officials, decision makers and journalists, commissioning studies, reports, news stories and films. In 2009, the center began decided to produce short movies, in addition to monographs, to film every aspect of UNRWA education in a clear and cogent fashion.   The center has so far produced seven short documentary pieces n UNRWA which have received international acclaim and recognition, showing how which UNRWA promotes anti-Semitism and incitement to violence in their education'   In sum, Bedein has pioneered The UNRWA Reform Initiative, a strategy which calls for donor nations to insist on reasonable reforms of UNRWA. Bedein and his team of experts provide timely briefings to members to legislative bodies world wide, bringing the results of his investigations to donor nations, while demanding reforms based on transparency, refugee resettlement and the demand that terrorists be removed from the UNRWA schools and UNRWA payroll.   Bedein's work can be found at: www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com and www.cfnepr.com. A new site,unrwa-monitor.com, will be launched very soon.