The Defense Ministry on Wednesday announced a new chemical testing laboratory installed at a border crossing into the Gaza Strip, and said the facility recently intercepted a truck carrying bomb-making material on its way to the Palestinian enclave.
Set up at the Kerem Shalom crossing, the lab focuses on detecting substances that are banned from import into Gaza for security concerns, the ministry said in a statement. It is operated by the ministry’s Border Crossing Authority along with the Shin Bet security service and the Israel Police.
Using advanced equipment, the lab can test a range of substances including gases, liquids, powders, solid metals and other materials before they are transferred to Gaza, the minister said. Banned substances are listed on a sign at the entrance to the crossing.
“One of the main goals of the lab is to locate problematic substances that it is prohibited to bring into Gaza, for fear they will reach terror entities,” the statement said. “The lab’s operational ability to identify the type of substance [being tested] within a short period of time, from the moment of sampling, will enable an improvement of the service and reduce as much as possible delays in the transfer of goods to Gaza.”
During the lab’s pilot phase, a truck arrived at Kerem Shalom that was registered as carrying a load of motor oil, but that raised the suspicions of security staff at the site. A sample of the oil was sent to the lab, which identified that it was not motor oil but rather a “dangerous substance” that was intended to be used to make a large amount of explosives, the statement said.
IDF Brig. Gen. (res.) Kamil Abu Rokon, current head of the Border Crossing Authority, welcomed the improved capabilities that the lab afforded his organization.
“Establishing the chemical laboratory greatly broadens the ‘toolbox’ that is in the hands of security officials in the daily unrelenting campaign against smuggling into Gaza,” he said in the statement. “The lab’s ability adds to an extensive detection system that includes various means, the most important of which is the human element — the security checkers at the crossings. With informed work, today we know how to identify every banned substance that is likely to strengthen the terror elements in the Strip.”