Photo: IDF

Israel seizes Hamas maritime arms shipment

A joint operation by the Israeli Navy and the Israeli Security Agency (ISA, Shin Bet) foiled the attempted smuggling of components for the production of weapons for terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip.

By Erin Viner

The IDF just revealed that naval commandos, in cooperation with the Intelligence Division and the ISA, successfully intercepted the illegal transfer off the coast of Egypt.

According to a military statement, three people involved were arrested after leaving the Islamist Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip on the night of 8 April and began sailing along the maritime area across from the Palestinian enclave. They were stopped by IDF forces operating on intelligence information, prior to entering the territorial waters of Egypt.

“We hit a significant route that was used to transfer components to manufacture weapons for terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip,” explained the commander of the Ashdod base, Col. Eli Sukholitsky.

“The IDF operates constantly to prevent the strengthening of terrorist organizations and their infrastructure,” emphasized Col. Sukholitsky, adding that “the joint intelligence effort by the IDF and the ISA, supported by the forces on the ground and the naval control system, led to the success of the mission.”

The vessel and all cargo aboard were confiscated by Israeli security services.

The suspects were transferred to the ISA for interrogation, which revealed that they were en route to trafficking the contraband in full coordination with Hamas officials in Gaza.

Veteran Palestinian smuggler Mahmoud Aziz Bachar was among the criminals who was apprehended. He was incarcerated in an Israeli prison for one year after being caught trying to deliver ammunition to Hamas about two years ago. The other two suspects were identified as Gaza residents Ahmed Ismail Fasih and Mahmud Nahad Silawi.

Both Egypt and Israel imposed blockades on their respective crossings into  Gaza after the Islamist-Hamas organization seized control of the Palestinian enclave from its bitter Fatah rivals in a 2007 bloody internecine Palestinian war, to prevent the terrorist group from acquiring contraband materials.