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Israeli authorities uncover 'smuggling network' between West Bank, Gaza

Jan. 10, 2017 5:30 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 10, 2017 5:30 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Israel’s internal security agency, the Shabak, alongside the Israeli army and police reportedly uncovered a “smuggling network” between the besieged Gaza Strip and the occupied West Bank.

According to Israeli media outlet Ynet, Hebrew-language sites reported that Palestinians Nuofil Abu Siria from Gaza and Nader Msalma from the West Bank, both of whom were merchants, smuggled “dual-use items” -- reported as surveillance cameras and other communication devices -- into the Gaza Strip via the Karam Abu Salem (Kerem Shalom) crossing.

The materials -- which were smuggled inside electronic appliances, such as televisions, a washer machine, and refrigerators -- were transported into the Gaza Strip several times in 2016, Ynet reported.

Israeli authorities suspected that the smuggled items could be used by “terror groups” in the besieged coastal enclave, and that some of which “fell into the hands” of Hamas’ armed wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades.

The majority of the 2 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are sealed inside the coastal enclave due to the continuation of the military blockade imposed by Israel and upheld by Egypt on the southern border.

Owing to the severe restrictions on the movement of goods and people, both Hamas and residents of Gaza are largely dependent on smuggling networks to basic necessities in high demand due to the decade-long Israeli military blockade, including materials for military use.

The destruction from three Israeli offensives over the past six years, including damage to the enclave’s water, sanitation, energy, and medical facilities, coupled with slow reconstruction due to the blockade led the UN in September to warn that Gaza could be “uninhabitable” by 2020.
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