Israeli authorities foiled an attempt to smuggle metal pipes and motors into the Gaza Strip, which could have been used for building rockets and tunnels, the Defense Ministry announced Thursday.
The Gaza-bound shipment came through Tarkumiya, a small village outside of Hebron in the West Bank. The trucks were headed to the Kerem Shalom crossing, where they would enter the coastal enclave.
Inspectors at the Tarkumiya crossing, along with the Shin Bet security service, intercepted the packages, which were believed to have been on their way to the Hamas terror organization in the Gaza Strip, the ministry said in a statement.
According to officials, the “large shipment” consisted of “hundreds of pipes with a diameter under four inches, with a special kind of screw that is used for the production of mortars and rockets.”
In addition to the weapons manufacturing material, the crossing authority employees also uncovered “dozens of electric motors that are used by terror groups for different build-up purposes, including the construction of underground networks,” the Defense Ministry said, referring to Hamas’s extensive system of attack and smuggling tunnels.
“The shipment has been confiscated and an investigation has been opened to locate those involved in the smuggling,” the Defense Ministry said.
The illicit materials were “camouflaged,” stuck in alongside “textiles and jewelry.” This practice of hiding illegal goods among approved products has become the go-to method for smugglers. Earlier this year, electrodes were discovered hidden in butter from a Ramallah factory.
Earlier this month, Israel’s Tax Authority uncovered an attempt to sneak four tons of ammonium chloride into Gaza, concealed in table salt.
Sacks of the ammonium chloride were found buried in some 36 tons of salt. The chemical compound is used mainly in agriculture as a fertilizer, but like many nitrogen-based fertilizers, can also be turned into an explosive.
“This case underscores the activity of Gaza-based terrorist organizations in smuggling dual-use materials disguised as goods destined for the civilian population and reconstruction projects,” the Tax Authority said at the time.