Cleared for Publication: Three Hamas-Affiliated Suspects Arrested in Smuggling Attempt

Last month, a joint ISA-IDF operation uncovered tons worth of materials being smuggled on a vessel off the coast of Gaza. The materials, originating from the Sinai Peninsula, were meant for Hamas in the Gaza Strip and led to the arrest of three suspects.

On January 19, IDF forces identified a suspicious boat making its way towards the Gaza Strip. The navy, in conjunction with the Israel Security Agency (ISA), intercepted the vessel after requesting that the passengers stop the boat.

The craft was disguised as a fishing boat, but underneath the fishing gear liquid fiberglass was concealed. The liquid fiberglass was intended for Hamas and meant to be used in the manufacturing of rockets and mortars.

smuggling-fishers

“The Dvora-class ships and our Shaldag-class knew to seize the vessel quietly and discreetly after following it for hours, patiently, from the moment it crossed the southern border,” asserted Lt. Col. Liav Ziberman, commander of the navy’s 916th Company, located in Ashdod. “Thwarting smuggling attempts like this happens almost every week,” he said.

fishing-smugglers

The three suspects, Mahmed Bechar, Ahmed Zaidi and Awad Zaidi​, were arrested and interrogated by the ISA. During the interrogation, the suspects admitted that they were sent to collect the manufacturing materials from the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt and to deliver the liquid fiberglass to Hamas’ military wing.

Furthermore, the three men provided detailed information about previous weapon smuggling activities and how Hamas intended to use the fishermen and smugglers for future smuggling attempts. On February 11, charges were filed against all three suspects for taking part in security-related crimes in the district court in Beer Sheva.

gaza-smugglers

“The IDF is determined to prevent unlawful attempts to ship weapons and raw materials that may jeopardize the well being of Israelis,” stated IDF Spokesperson Lt. Col. Peter Lerner. Since Operation Protective Edge, the IDF has seen an increase in the number of smuggling attempts from the sea because of the extensive destruction to the terror tunnels found and uncovered by the IDF during the operation. “This shipment highlights that when Hamas chose to smuggle materials for rockets and mortars, it chose not to invest in the rehabilitation for the people of Gaza,” Lt. Col. Lerner concluded.

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