The Israel Navy and the Shin Bet security services jointly intercepted a Gaza-bound vessel carrying material for the production of missiles and other weapons, it was revealed on Wednesday.
The capture occurred on January 19 but was only released for publication Wednesday.
Interrogation of three Gazan residents on the boat yielded a wealth of information concerning the Hamas-run smuggling routes between the Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza Strip.
The three men admitted to the Shin Bet that their smuggling attempt was under the aegis of Hamas’s military wing, the Izzadin Al-Kassam Brigades, aimed at supplying it with raw material for building rockets and mortar shells.
Hamas also uses the sea for the smuggling of civilian products to sell in Gaza, and funnels the profits into its terrorist operations, the Shin Bet added.
“Recently, Hamas has invested much in exploiting naval smuggling routes, partly due to Egypt’s efforts to prevent smuggling tunnels that linked Sinai and Gaza,” it stated.
The three suspects captured on board the boat were charged on Wednesday at the Be’er Sheva District Court with a range of security offenses.
The smuggling of weapons and contraband into the Hamas enclave is accomplished by way of Palestinian fishing boats that head out into the Mediterranean, sail to the Egyptian coast, load cargo, and then return to Gaza. The route has been used for years, but the scale has enlarged in recent months.