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Gazan man accused of selling scuba gear to Hamas elite unit

Equipment allegedly intended for commando attacks included hundreds of flippers, masks and wet suits

Hamas naval commandos, seen in a still image from a propaganda video released by the terror group during Israel's Operation Protective Edge, in the summer of 2014. (Screen capture)
Hamas naval commandos, seen in a still image from a propaganda video released by the terror group during Israel's Operation Protective Edge, in the summer of 2014. (Screen capture)

A Gazan Palestinian man was indicted Sunday in the Beersheba District Court on multiple counts of aiding the Hamas terrorist organization after he allegedly imported diving equipment for a Hamas elite naval unit from Egypt and from Israel.

Abd Saqallah, who owns two stores and a sewing factory in the Gaza Strip, purchased the equipment from the Italian firm Cressi, according to the indictment. Included in the shipment were hundreds of flippers, scuba masks and wet suits. Wet suits cannot be imported into the Gaza Strip without a special permit.

Saqallah allegedly imported the gear through smuggling tunnels from Egypt and sold it to Hamas’s Nukhba naval commando unit.

Saqallah is also accused of selling sports gear to Hamas operatives, including weight-training equipment worth $30,000 and sports apparel worth tens of thousands of shekels.

In 2014 Saqallah allegedly imported diving masks and wet suits through the Kerem Shalom crossing between Israel and Gaza. Even though some of the equipment was discovered and confiscated, Saqallah managed to bring in 60 masks that were missed by the inspectors.

The prosecution requested that Saqallah remain in jail until the case is completed, and that all the equipment that was seized by police be confiscated.

Recent years have seen many attempts to smuggle illicit equipment into the Gaza Strip. Earlier this year Israel intercepted wet suits hidden in a shipment of sportswear coming in to the coastal enclave from the Palestinian Authority through the Kerem Shalom Crossing.

“The shipment was seized and an investigation has been opened to locate those involved,” the Defense Ministry said in a statement at the time.

In 2015 Israel intercepted 40 wet suits concealed inside a shipment of sports clothing at the Nitzana border crossing.

During the 2014 Gaza war, a team of five Hamas frogmen entered Israel from the shore and approached the nearby community of Zikim before they were spotted and killed by an attack helicopter.

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.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J6q3F1fhfss

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