A credible report has appeared in the Israeli daily newspaper Maariv that cites Palestinian security sources who confirm that terrorist organizations are importing their weapons by sea into Gaza.
These Palestinian security officials say increased activity by the Egyptians and others has made smuggling weapons through the Sinai more difficult. Egyptian efforts intensified, following the discovery of Hezbollah cells on Egyptian soil. Although the arrests were reported only recently, many of the cell’s members were arrested at the beginning of the year.
Weapons-smuggling vessels reportedly anchor in international waters and throw large barrels filled with arms overboard into the sea. Some of the barrels are washed up onto the shore, while others are drawn from the sea by Gazan fishing boats.
“There is no room for chance,” a Palestinian security official told Maariv’s reporter in Gaza. “They know exactly where to jettison the barrels and where they will end up, according to the currents.”
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Hamas had been claiming that Israel Navy vessels are stopping innocent Gazan fishing vessels and interrogating them at sea.
Meanwhile, Mahmoud a-Zahar, the Hamas foreign minister, said during a Friday sermon in a Gaza mosque, “The arms currently in Hamas’ possession are more advanced… Hamas now has better weapons than the ones that were formerly in its possession.”
In light of these revelations, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a meeting yesterday about the Gaza situation with top officials of the Israeli security establishment. The subject of the briefing dealt with the military strength of Hamas in Gaza.
Also on the agenda was Israel’s cooperation with other countries, particularly members of NATO, who assist in locating and stopping arms procurement routes from Iran to Gaza.
David Bedein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org