Israel announced Thursday that it had foiled an attempt to smuggle 172 mailed packages containing military equipment into the Gaza Strip via the Erez Crossing from Israel a day earlier.
The equipment reportedly included drones, digital microscopes, weapons sights, flashlights and holsters for weapons, field phones, hidden cameras, communications equipment, diving lights and military boots.
According to a statement from COGAT, the Israeli Defense Ministry body that liaises with the Palestinians, 250 mail bags were sent from Israel to Gaza. An officer stationed at the crossing on Wednesday identified 172 packages which contained “dual-use” items and confiscated them.
For the past several years, Israel has heavily restricted the entry into Gaza of products that it labels “dual-use,” meaning that they can be utilized for both civilian and military purposes. Palestinians in Gaza have long been required to receive special permits to import goods that Israel categorizes as dual-use.
Col. Iyad Sarhan, the head of the IDF Coordination and Liaison Administration for Gaza, said in a statement that the military would continue to work in coordination with other defense bodies to prevent the entry of any equipment to the coastal enclave that could be used for terrorist activities.
“We view with great severity any attempt to exploit the civilian operation of postal shipments to deliver dual-use products that may harm the security of the State of Israel and its citizens,” Sarhan said. “Our transit officers, together with the crossings authority at the Defense Ministry and the Israel Postal Authority, work around the clock to prevent smuggling of this type and to prevent the entry of equipment used for combat and terror.”
Last month, a senior Hamas official said Israel had agreed to lift restrictions on importing into the Gaza Strip many “dual-use” goods as a part of ceasefire understandings with terror groups there.
According to a World Bank report last month, there are 118 goods that Israel classifies as dual-use in relation to Gaza and 56 to the West Bank. Those pertaining to Gaza include several chemicals, machinery including drilling equipment and jet skis.
The report said World Bank estimates found that “easing dual-use restrictions could bring additional 6 percent growth in the West Bank economy and 11 percent in Gaza by 2025, compared to a scenario with continue restrictions.”
Egypt, the United Nations and Qatar recently brokered ceasefire understandings between Israel and the Hamas terror group, which Hebrew media reports have said include an end to violence emanating from the Gaza in exchange for the Jewish state easing some of its restrictions on the movement of people and goods into and out of the coastal enclave.