Israel seizes Gaza-bound material used to make bombs
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Israel seizes Gaza-bound material used to make bombs

Officials say dual-use chemicals, hidden in medical equipment, can be used 'to create explosives and make explosives more powerful'

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

Explosive materials discovered by Crossing Authority checkers inside a shipment of medical goods to the at the Kerem Shalom Crossing on February 4, 2018. (Defense Ministry)
Explosive materials discovered by Crossing Authority checkers inside a shipment of medical goods to the at the Kerem Shalom Crossing on February 4, 2018. (Defense Ministry)

Israel’s Crossing Authority discovered boxes of chemicals often used to create explosives hidden inside a shipment of medical equipment bound for the beleaguered Gaza Strip last week, the Defense Ministry said Sunday.

The ministry did not specify what type of chemicals were seized last Sunday, but said they could have been used by terrorist groups in the Strip to create both improvised explosive devices and simple rockets. The ministry didn’t immediately provide a reason for its refusal to name the chemicals.

“The boxes included dual-use chemicals that are meant to create explosives and make explosives more powerful, which were hidden in a shipment of medical gear that was bound for the Strip,” the ministry said in a statement.

Since the Hamas terror group took over control of the Gaza Strip, Israel and Egypt have maintained a blockade around the coastal enclave in order to prevent it from bringing in weapons and materiel.

Israel, therefore, allows goods with only civilian uses into the Strip and maintains strict controls over the importation of dual-use goods that can be used for either innocent or nefarious purposes. Those items, including things like chemical fertilizers, are not necessarily restricted, but are closely monitored and require special approval in order to ensure that they are used for peaceful purposes.

The chemicals confiscated last Sunday were identified by a newly constructed laboratory at the Kerem Shalom Crossing, which serves as the main entryway for goods and humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip.

“The laboratory… was created a few months ago at the Kerem Shalom crossing in order to find problematic chemicals whose entrance into Gaza is forbidden out of concern that they may reach terror groups,” the ministry said.

The investigation into the illicit shipment is being led by the Crossing Authority, alongside the Israel Police and Shin Bet security service.

“This discovery joins the dozens of smuggling attempts foiled by Kerem Shalom Crossing Authority employees during 2017,” the ministry said.

Last month, customs officials seized a consignment of military gear that they believed were bound for Hamas. This included thousands of vests, military boots and camouflage-colored heavy jackets. The shipment, which came from China, was en route to Gaza and had it not been discovered, would have been transferred by truck via the Kerem Shalom border crossing.

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