Julie Stahl | Jerusalem Bureau Chief | Tuesday, November 14, 2006
The head of Israel's Shin Bet security services, Yuval Diskin, told Israeli lawmakers on Tuesday that Palestinians had smuggled 30 tons of military-grade explosives as well as large quantities of weapons, including anti-tank missiles, into Gaza since Israel withdrew its troops and evacuated settlements there last summer.
The smuggling posed a "real challenge" because the weapons could be used against Israel and to destabilize the regime of Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, said Maj. Gen. Amos Gilad, director of the military/political and policy bureau at the Defense Ministry.
What was even more serious, however, was the transfer of terror know-how, Gilad told a meeting of diplomats at the Institute for Contemporary Affairs in Jerusalem.
He said the Iranians and Hizballah were collaborating with Hamas to transfer expertise. This would enable terrorists to perpetrate worse attacks, causing more casualties.
"[Gaza] is like a university of terror knowledge," said Gilad.
Although he declined to offer details on how the transfers were taking place, Gilad said they were occurring through Rafah, the official crossing point between Egypt and the Gaza Strip.
A year ago, Israel handed the Palestinians full control over a narrow strip of territory running between Gaza and Egypt. The deal was brokered by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
The Rafah crossing is now monitored by a European Union contingent, but the Palestinian Authority has full control over who passes through it.
Palestinian terrorists continued to launch rockets from Gaza into southern Israeli communities on Tuesday. In one case, a rocket landed near a dormitory for children. No injuries were reported, but the Israeli Defense Forces said some people were treated for shock.
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