The number of attempt to smuggle goods from Israel into the Gaza Strip rose 165% in 2016, the Ministry of Defense Land Crossings Authority reported today.
The Land Crossings Authority's figures show that attempts to smuggle forbidden goods and items to the Gaza Strip increased over the past year. Such items are banned due to concern about strengthening Hamas and other terrorist organizations operating in the Gaza Strip.
The goods involved include military clothing items, laser systems, metal balls, aluminum and metal pipes, snappling equipment, diving suits, model airplanes, drones, disassembled commercial vehicles, engines, etc.
The Israel Security Agency and personnel from the Land Crossings Authority, which manages the Kerem Shalom border crossing, are responsible for preventing smuggling. The volume of goods transferred from Israel crossing to the Gaza Strip through the Kerem Shalom rose 13% last year.
Ministry of Defense figures show that 175,000 trucks carried goods of various kinds to the Gaza Strip in 2016, and that 1,126 smuggling attempts were stopped.
The Ministry of Defense today attributed the rise in attempts to smuggle goods to the Strip to an increase in the number of trucks authorized to carry goods to the Gaza Strip, the closing of many smuggling channels to the Gaza Strip from Egypt by way of Rafiah, and Hamas's efforts to rebuild and consolidate its military forces since Operation Protective Edge in the summer of 2014.
All-out war against smugglers
"It has been proven that the Ministry of Defense's all-out war against smugglers has delayed force building by the terrorist groups operating in the Gaza Strip," Land Crossing Authority head Brig. Gen. Kamil Abu Rokon said today.
The Ministry of Defense noted that enforcement action taken over the past year by the Israel Security Agency, Israel Police, Israel Tax Authority, and the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, among others, against truck drivers involved in attempted smuggling had deterred many of them, and had significantly affected the smuggling infrastruture that had arisen in southern Israel.
At the same time, the Ministry of Defense did not state the number of cases opened against those involved in smuggling, or how many indictments had been filed against them.
Meanwhile, the Land Crossing Authority has enhanced its capabilities for detecting smuggling of banned goods into the Gaza Strip in recent months, including the use of innovative screening machines and advanced technologies and checking methods at the Kerem Shalom crossing.
The 2016 figures published today also show a substantial rise in the number of Palestinian pedestrians from Judea and Samaria entering Israel through the border crossings, with 1.6 million more crossings being recorded in 2016 than in 2015. Since 2005, when the Land Crossings Authority began to operate, 13 million pedestrians have passed through these crossings, mostly in order to work or receive medical treatment.
Published by Globes [online], Israel Business News - www.globes-online.com - on January 15, 2017
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