Fearing naval attack, Israel bars scuba suit shipment to Gaza
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Four Hamas divers were killed in an infiltration attempt last summer

Fearing naval attack, Israel bars scuba suit shipment to Gaza

Security officials suspect equipment seized at Nitzana border crossing was to be used by Hamas commandos in sea-based attack, in repeat of 2014 attempt

Adiv Sterman is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Palestinian divers from the al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas' armed wing, take part in a parade marking the 27th anniversary of the Islamist movement’s creation on December 14, 2014 in Gaza City. (photo credit: AFP/ MAHMUD HAMS)
Palestinian divers from the al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas' armed wing, take part in a parade marking the 27th anniversary of the Islamist movement’s creation on December 14, 2014 in Gaza City. (photo credit: AFP/ MAHMUD HAMS)

Israeli authorities thwarted an attempt to smuggle scuba diving suits into the Gaza Strip this month, which they say could have been used for a sea-based attack on Israel.

Customs employees at the Nitzana border crossing in the country’s south along with Shin Bet security service agents found the scuba suits in a shipment going to Gaza via Israel, the Customs Authority said Monday.

While the import documents stated that the shipment to the Strip was supposed to contain a large number of sports suits, a thorough examination by workers at Nitzana revealed that 40 diving suits had been included in the transport as well, a commodity which requires special permits.

The Shin Bet suspected that the attempted smuggling of diving suits to the Strip was initiated by the Hamas terrorist group in order to build up the organization’s naval forces, which include commandos tasked with carrying out attacks against Israeli targets across the border.

On July 8, 2014, during last summer’s 50-day war between Israel and and the Gaza-based terrorist organization, four Hamas divers were killed in an aborted infiltration attempt a kilometer north of the border, near Kibbutz Zikim.

A leaked video of the attempted attack revealed that one of the Hamas commandos managed to attach an explosive belt to a tank, which detonated without causing damage. IDF videos and press releases of the incident given to the public contained no mention of the explosive belt.

Customs employees at the Nitzana border crossing have recently seen an increase in the number of attempts to smuggle weapons and other materials into Gaza, according to a statement by the Customs Authority.

In the last four months alone, 1,200 tubes of polyurethane, a material that can be used to produce propellant rockets, were found in a silicon shipment to Gaza, the Authority stated.

Two-hundred kilograms of crude sulfur rods, which can be used as components of certain weapons, were also found stashed within a supply of dry food.

The authority also thwarted a smuggling attempt of 18 tons of metallurgical coke coal, often used as fuel in metal melting furnaces.

There was no immediate response from Gaza-based authorities.

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